Wikis: an introduction

A wiki is 'a website or database developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content.' (1)

  • Wikis are websites which allow interlinked web pages.
  • They are easily created and edited.
  • They can be used individually or as a collaborative tool by researchers who, working on joint projects, need to share knowledge and information.

"I recently used a wiki with a couple of colleagues to put together a funding proposal. Even though we met up face-to-face, it was useful for collaborative editing of texts, sharing and discussing ideas generally." (2)

Wikis have a wide range of uses, including group projects, training guides and intranets. Work in progress can be updated regularly and quickly by any member of the group. This means that wikis are particularly useful for research groups that are distributed across a number of locations.

Wikis can be completely free for anyone to edit. Wikipedia is probably the best known example. This means that the editing of pages takes place in real time, and as soon as the changes are made, they become public.

Although this option may mean there is a danger of people spamming, or posting incorrect information, it is relatively easy for the owners of the wiki to roll back the page to the earlier version, or for someone else to go in and make corrections. It is possible to add password protection to pages, so that only a select group people have the right to edit the wiki. In this way a research group can protect their work, while making their discussions and findings available to a wider audience.

1. Wiki, In: Soanes, C. & Stevenson, A. (ed.). The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006. 
2. Andrew Coverdale (PhD Student, Education) Research Information Network (2011) Social Media: A Guide for researchers, p31.

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PILOT - Communication by Marion Kelt, GCU, Imperial College, London and East Midlands Research Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.