February 3, 2016

The SEG Wiki – a wiki by/for geologists

Posted by Laura Guertin

I have written posts recently titled Wikipedia turns 15 – but do academics trust this teenager? and Wikipedia Year of Science 2016. For those that are still hesitant to have students contribute to or even use Wikipedia, here’s one additional wiki that may alleviate some of those fears and concerns – the SEG Wiki (http://wiki.seg.org/).

The goal of the SEG Wiki is: to expand the world’s knowledge of applied geophysics, to provide further details of (“layer”) the science itself, and to engage emerging professionals in the field. — (Main page, SEG Wiki)

wiki-logo&tagIn 2012, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) rolled out the first wiki devoted exclusively to the geosciences. Thanks to a grant from the Apache Corporation, the SEG Wiki has been established and (according to SEG) will benefit you by being a simple, intuitive research tool; focusing exclusively on geoscience topics; being moderated by our professional peers; and, being populated by our peers and Sherrif’s Encyclopedic Dictionary and Oz Yilmaz’s Seismic Data Analysis (both available for free on the wiki).

The topics on the SEG Wiki are ones you would expect to find for an organization focused on exploration and applied geophysics. But there is so much more than this on the wiki! SEG has teamed up with the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and added pages from their Critical Issues Program to the SEG Wiki. There are biographies of well-known geophysicists or contributors to the field of geophysics (over 800 biographies), as well as a specific page dedicated to showcasing women in the geosciences and their contributions.

For full disclosure, the students in my introductory-level geoscience courses contribute articles to the SEG Wiki. I started with two students in Summer 2015 as undergraduate researchers authoring articles. Now, I’ve scaled up the number of students to have each student in my introductory-level course on “Environment Earth” author his/her own page. The success of my students being able to author their own articles on Geology 101 topics from scratch, learning about information literacy and MediaWiki software along the way, has been incredibly eye-opening. Their (the student) success is absolutely tied in to the expertise I have tapped in to from our campus faculty instructional and reference librarians, and the SEG Wiki champions Isaac Farley (SEG Digital Publications Manager) and Andrew Geary (SEG Publications Outreach Editor). They have even generated a series of YouTube videos that is a SEG Wiki Tutorial Help Series. And that the SEG Wiki is not open to the entire world to come in and anonymously edit (like Wikipedia) – this give me a huge amount of confidence about the accuracy of the information I am obtaining from the SEG Wiki, as well as encourages students to take serious ownership of their work, knowing that their names are tied to their wiki articles.

If you would like to read up on the SEG Wiki, I encourage you to read these two articles by Isaac Farley – The SEG Wiki: A look ahead and The SEG Wiki: Be skeptical — then contribute (there is also a full news article listing on the site). I’m also going to be presenting the work my students have been doing on the SEG Wiki at the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America in Albany (NEGSA Abstract), and one of my research students majoring in communications that started contributing to the wiki has a poster of her work archived in ScholarSphere from the 2015 Pennsylvania Communication Association Conference. You can also learn more by joining in with one of the SEG Muut discussions held online (I’ve blogged about this virtual SEG chat previously).

Most importantly, reach out to SEG (Contact Us section at the bottom of the SEG Wiki main page) and not only use the SEG Wiki, but have your students contribute and understand why/how this wiki is different from Wikipedia. Help improve student information literacy and geoscience content knowledge with this valuable resource!