Simon Knight, Heather Ford, Shibani Antonette


> Citation practices — the provision of reliable external warrants for claims — are central to trust and credibility not only on Wikipedia, but in journalism, science, scholarship, and other genres of research and writing. >

When university students learn about citation practices, they are effectively being socialised into a particular professional genre with its own institutional contexts and norms (Lea & Street, 2006). A key component of these social norms in academic writing involves a broad set of academic integrity practices of which citation is a key part. But, we often focus on citation only from a plagiarism perspective, rather than verifiability (McGowan, 2005). Both appropriate paraphrasing, and high quality synthesis writing, are challenging skills to learn but are important for accurate citations and referencing.

Effective paraphrasing is something all students need support in developing (Keck, 2006) but there are few learning tools to develop citation practices. Previous game-based citation tools rely on multiple-choice-quiz (MCQ) assessments largely focusing on issues of plagiarism and academic integrity, and do not directly assess the authentic practices of writing and citing Bradley, 2015).

What we’re doing to address this need

The aim of the CiteLearn project is to build learning tasks for the improvement of information literacy and credibility practices for scalable use across teaching contexts.

We want to build tools that provide students with authentic learning experiences for understanding the purpose and usefulness of citation practice. Our first assignment is to build a text-based task/game in which university students learn about verifiability by giving students an apprenticeship into Wikipedia’s best practice relating to citations.

Verifiability is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia, underpinning its credibility as a source. In addition to its role in tertiary education, the tool could be used to support onboarding into Wikipedia citation practices, both in the Education Program context, and more informal support provided to new editors. The project supports verifiability processes by providing learning support for the addition of citations to Wikipedia.

How we’re going to do it

The CiteLearn game situates students in the context of Wikipedia editing and gets them to think about where to place citations, for which purposes and through which conventions.

In round one, students must locate where citations should be placed in articles that are provided to them. We will use knowledge about those articles to assess how appropriately students insert citations.

In round two, students must write articles, including citations. In this latter round, the Citation Detective API — which is used to label sentences that require a citation — will be used to provide automated feedback to students, and develop their citation practices.

Other tools could be added, like Cite Unseen,which detects bias in citations, and Citation Reason, which classifies reasons for a citation being given. (see Chou et al., 2020). We anticipate this game being used to onboard people into Wikipedia citation practices, and more broadly to develop the skills associated with citation (credibility checking, verifiability, etc.).

The tool will be piloted with university students (subject to institutional ethics review). We’ll evaluate this pilot by exploring how well students cite before and after their use of the tool, and using a survey to explore their understanding of source use competence and citation motivation (e.g. appendices in, Ma and Qin, 2017).

The project team would welcome input from the community in supporting technical development, and the use of Wikimedia resources in the learning design for these tasks. If you’re interested in being involved, get in touch via email or on the talk page!


> The WikiCred Grants Initiative supports research, software projects and Wikimedia events that explore information reliability and credibility. WikiCred’s funding is provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Facebook, and Microsoft. >

References and useful resources

Chou, A. J., Gonçalves, G., Walton, S., & Redi, M. Citation Detective: a Public Dataset to Improve and Quantify Wikipedia Citation Quality at Scale.

Bradley, E. G. (2015). Using Computer Simulations and Games to Prevent Student Plagiarism. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 44(2), 240–252.

Keck, C. (2006). The use of paraphrase in summary writing: A comparison of L1 and L2 writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 15(4), 261–278.

Lea, M. R., & Street, B. V. (2006). The” academic literacies” model: Theory and applications. Theory into Practice, 45(4), 368–377.

Ma, R., & Qin, X. (2017). Individual factors influencing citation competence in L2 academic writing. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 24(2–3), 213–240.

McGowan, U. (2005). Plagiarism detection and prevention: Are we putting the cart before the horse. HERDSA.

Relevant resources: Citation Detective: Citation Hunt: