NeuroMat, the largest institutional contributor on Mathematics on Wikipedia

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), funded by FAPESP, has chosen web, collaborative platforms as its main line of action in terms of science dissemination. This decision was made in 2014 and now the RIDC has become a relevant institutional contributor to Wikimedia projects and the largest institutional contributor on Mathematics on Wikipedia, according to reports from the Outreach Dashboard, that monitors institutional programs and activities on Wikimedia projects.

As of the end of May 2018, 8.15 million words were added to Wikimedia projects —particularly Wikipedia in Portuguese— in the context of programs and activities set up by NeuroMat, according to the Outreach Dashboard. This content has been viewed 17.7 million times since 2014. Almost 20 thousand Wikipedia articles have been improved and 3.72 thousand articles have been created in the context of the NeuroMat Wikipedia Initiative.

The production of Wikipedia entries is organized along two specific directions. Firstly, the NeuroMat scientific dissemination team has been involved in creating what is called featured entries on Mathematics, such as Law of Large Numbers. This work has normally been done in a joint activity of NeuroMat science journalists with a FAPESP fellowship and professors and researchers from the RIDC. On Wikipedia in Portuguese, 12 of the existing 14 featured articles on Mathematics were developed by this joint activity. Secondly, in regular programs and events, content has been massively produced, including basic and more obscure concepts related to topics pertaining to the NeuroMat research agenda. The criterion is normally loose and most concepts that appear in papers produced by the NeuroMat team end up having their own Wikipedia entry. This more massive production often relies on already existing content on Wikipedias in other languages, especially English, French and Spanish.

Key content, such as the Law of Large Numbers, will often include an audio version and images produced by the NeuroMat team. A rationale for producing audio versions of mathematical concepts is that often formulas are not understandable by people with visual impairment. Images are produced as useful resources for educational resources. As all content on Wikimedia projects have an open license they can be reproduced and used by anyone who needs this content; the only requirement is attribution.

The NeuroMat Wikipedia initiative team has presented its line of action and results in recent science dissemination gatherings. At UNICAMP’s 5th Meeting of Science and Culture Dissemination, the team presented a paper on the association between mathematical culture and content on Mathematics on Wikipedia. The team also presented its activities at a meeting of science journalists from USP, at a gathering of RIDC communicators in São Carlos and at the science vulgarization event Conhecer, at the Biology Institute of USP. The NeuroMat dissemination team has also contributed to the development of a Wikipedia education program with Silvio Shigueo Nihei.

On June 9 and 10, the NeuroMat science dissemination team will hold a workshop on database and content production. This workshop is expected to be an opportunity for bringing more efficiency to massive content production. Two leading Wikipedia contributors, Andrew Lin (American University) and Magnus Manske (Cambridge University) will inform this workshop.

This piece is part of NeuroMat's Newsletter #52. Read more here



The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics is hosted by the University of São Paulo and funded by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation).


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