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World History Honors Kogan

Wikipedia as a Venue for Historical Research and Writing1
Purpose: If the Wikipedia entry for a topic is not the first thing you can look at in the course of your research, what are you to do? How will an assignment ever get done? In order to further explore some of the issues we dealt with in the first two weeks about the ethics of history, various historical methods (especially the issue of objectivity vs. subjectivity,) and how historians employ various types of sources, you are going to be playing the role of historian and creating (or dramatically expanding) an entry on Wikipedia. This assignment hopes to help you achieve three major goals: improve your research skills, learn about Wikipedia's place in terms of research, and learn the difference between objective and analytical, argumentative, subjective historical writing. Procedure: This assignment has two major phases. Due dates will be determined as we progress through the assignment. Phase One 1. Create an account on Wikipedia so that you'll be able to log in and edit articles. Be sure to remember your user name so you can make edits with it and so you can tell me what it is in your first blog post (see #4 below.) 2. Read through Wikipedia's guidelines for their entries. Consider how these guidelines will shape the entry that you write and how these guidelines reflect a particular outlook toward history. Pay special attention to the Wikipedia Content Criteria and read through all of these pages in order to be fully familiar with the websites expectations and guidelines. Also check out Wikipedia's page about "verifiability," and their expectations about basing your research on secondary and tertiary sources as Wikipedia entries should NOT constitute original research. 3. Go to Wikipedia's Historical Stubs Page (can also be accessed in a different way here) and browse through the various offerings for entries that have not yet been created in Wikipedia. You are free to select almost any entry -- the only limitation is that your topic in some way needs to deal with the field of World History. Aside from that, feel free to choose whatever era, issue, person, idea, etc. interests you. 4. Write and post a blog entry explaining the process that you went through in deciding what you wanted to write about and why you find that topic particularly interesting. Also briefly address what plans and/or strategy you have for researching this topic -- where will you find sources, how will you organize your research, how will you determine the validity and/or value of the sources you encounter? What strategies do you have to make your entry congruent with Wikipedia's guidelines? 5. Research. I strongly urge you to use Diigo and annotate the various sources you find online. However, you'll also need to cull through secondary sources online in JSTOR, Google Books, and even print sources. Be sure to organize your research well (both the digital and the print) so that you can synthesize the material effective and make proper citations on your entry. 6. Compose an entry of roughly 500 words about your topic of research to be posted on Wikipedia. To also preserve your original version and have a record of it, post your Wikipedia entry on your blog as well.

1. Assignment adapted from and influenced by the following sources: "Assigning Wikipedia in a US History Survey" by Jeremy Boggs "Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia)" by Christopher Miller "Are We Ready to Use Wikipedia to Teach Writing?" by Robert E. Cummings

World History Honors Kogan a. Your entry must be thoroughly researched and include footnotes. b. You need to draw on a variety of sources including at a bare minimum the following: - one published book - one external website - one other Wikipedia page c. Read through Wikipedia's formatting guidelines and before submitting your article ensure that you have it in the proper format by exploring the formatting tutorial and the formatting cheatsheet. Phase Two 1. Subscribe to the RSS feed for your article. By doing this you'll be constantly informed about what changes are occurring to your entry and the nature of those changes. 2. As changes occur (and potentially as your entry may be flagged for deletion,) connect with the users who are making those changes and consider the nature of their revisions. Do their suggested changes improve your article? Do you think those changes should be accepted in their entirety, rejected outright, or incorporated in some respects but not in others? During this phase of the assignment the goal is to improve your article and think about the nature of critical feedback and how one can productive learn and improve from it. 3. Once we've come to an end of the monitoring and editing period on our articles, write a 500 word reflection about the changes that occurred to your article, how you worked with those changes, and how your attitude about Wikipedia has changed as a result of this assignment. Assessment/Evaluation: This assignment will count as a test grade and will have three major components: 1. First blog post about your topic, the process of selection, and your research strategies - 25 points. 2. The Wikipedia entry itself, which will be evaluated for thoroughness of research, quality of writing and adherence to Wikipedia's stylistic and citation standards - 50 points. 3. Reflection blog post about the article's revisions, how you interpreted and incorporated those revisions, and how you changed your thinking about Wikipedia - 25 points.