Research is a broad term for professional Wikipedia experts. Research means;
- Expanding one’s understanding of Wikipedia policy knowledge.
- Collating sources about a subject.
- Evaluating and categorising sources.
- Extracting general-interest points from sources.
- Identifying ontological uniformity.
Expert Wikipedia policy knowledge
Wikipedia experts read Wikipedia’s content policies daily. I also revise and refresh my understanding of the content policies that apply to the subjects that I write about. For example, one of my specialities is biographies of living people. Biographical entries have additional criteria to protect the subject’s privacy and reputation.
Googling a subject sounds easy. However, most of Google’s results for a given subject are usually unusable. Often, Google might return articles that mention a subject but don’t feature the subject. Conversely, the client might send them every article on the Internet that features them. Again, most of what the client sends us will usually be unusable. A Wikipedia expert will know which sources they should keep and which sources they should toss.
Evaluating and categorising
Wikipedians lump sources into three categories. Primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary sources are the most common source type. However, Wikipedia limits its use of primary sources. Wikipedians may only use primary sources to verify facts like names or dates.
Secondary sources are valuable to Wikipedia experts because we can use them to establish notability. Quality articles only use secondary sources. Therefore, we value secondary sources above primary sources.
General interest points for Wikipedia experts
Less experienced encyclopaedists unduly focus on their client’s mission statements. However, I also view Wikipedia’s readers as clients. Hence, when deciding what the encyclopaedia entry should include, I try to extract general interest points that Wikipedia’s readers will find interesting and useful. Alternatively, if I am trying to demonstrate that a subject meets some of Wikipedia’s alternative criteria for living people, I will extract general interest points that verify that a subject meets the specific criterion.
Identifying ontological uniformity
Although a page’s content varies from subject to subject, I like to observe the stylistic traits of other pages in the same category. However, I don’t base my content on entries about a similar subject. Although subjects in the same category might follow similar technical guidelines such as templates and page layouts, each subject has different sources, and different sources will yield different results.