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3. Research Methodology

Figure 3.1 below depicts the research methodology employed in the study. In summary, this consisted of 31 experts (academics and doctoral students) reviewing two pairs of articles each in their area of expertise and in their native language. The languages selected for the purpose of this study were English, Spanish and Arabic. The rationale for selecting the same is mentioned in section 3.1 below. The academic areas of expertise selected for the purpose of this study were (a) Humanities (b) Social Sciences (c) Mathematics, Physics and Life Sciences and (d) Medical Sciences. The rationale for selecting these four academic areas to classify both articles and the reviewers' areas of expertise, was that they correspond with the four main academic divisions at the University of Oxford, which is where this study was carried out. Further details on each aspect of the methodology are described in the sections that follow.

Epic Oxford report figure 3.1.png

Fig. 3.1 Flowchart of research methodology.

3.1 Selection Criteria

3.1.1 Selection of Languages

As of July 2012, there were 285 different language versions of Wikipedia[1]. Three of the most popular world languages were included for the purpose of this study, based firstly on their popularity in terms of numbers of native speakers[2] and secondly in terms of numbers of Wikipedia articles, with the intention of choosing those with potential for a wide reach.

The top five world languages in order by numbers of native speakers were found to be Mandarin (Standard Chinese), Spanish, English, Hindi-Urdu and Arabic. These appear in the list of number of articles per language version of Wikipedia ordered as follows: English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and then Hindi-Urdu. The Chinese Wikipedia was found to be


  1. Wikipedia (2012) Lists of Wikipedias, [Online], Available at: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedias [Accessed 12/07/12].
  2. Wikipedia (2011) List of languages by number of native speakers, [Online], Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers [Accessed 16/04/11].

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