How was the jury for Wiki Science Competition 2017 formed?

A good jury is essential to determine the winners of a photography competition.

A good jury is a key aspect of every photo challenge. With the growth of our competition, our jury increased as well in size and also in diversity. But where do the people there come from?

Originally, the key target was to get at least 6 names for both the first level and second level jury, just to be sure that the selection procedure could work smoothly. We tried to gather in primis researchers with peer-reviewed publications from all the field and target mainly profiles who are not involved in Wikimedia platforms. This was not complicated, especially because we could rely on a network of old and new coworkers. We also tried to do our best to keep it balanced (by continent, field etc).

When more urgent issues were addressed and the main organization was almost ready, a second phase started in October. At this point, we looked mainly for expert wikimedians, that were also researchers. These volunteers are specifically necessary for a better promotion and for a smooth management of the huge amount of uploaded files, including categorization and reuse. In addition to that, with such selection, we wanted to show the challengers how researchers and wiki-world sometimes overlap, in a sort of continuum.

As a key selection step, we looked for active wikimedians based on their information on the user pages, mainly on English Wikipedia. Specifically, people with public name and surname (as a form of transparency, jurors should be public figures) and a scientific or technological education or position were contacted. The presence of sufficient bibliometric IDs (Scopus or ORCID profiles for example) was used as a standard prerequisite. We also helped a little bit to set up the national juries, when necessary. The search proved so successful that some of the new profiles were also promoted to the main jury.

This phase was the most interesting one because we met many people from all around the world. Finding another dozen of volunteers (including few ones for national juries here an there) could have been faster if we had looked more in Europe and North America, but our priority was the rest of the word. In the end, that’s how we got our final names, and we hope that the final result is sufficiently balanced.

Here are some anecdotes. First, it was much easier to find Indians than other nationalities; maybe it is just the fact they are more accustomed to speaking English and there are 1.3 billion of them. In any case, even if we tried, we couldn’t co-opt any profile from populous Pakistan and Bangladesh. Also, and that’s interesting, a difference seemed to be present by field, with computer scientists and biologists more prone to communicate their details on Wikipedia user pages than chemists and physicists.

There is, of course, room for improvement. Despite our efforts, a better coverage of topics is always possible. May they be specialists in botanical illustrations or wildlife photography or something entirely different. If you fit the profile or know someone who might, then please let us know. Next competition will be held already in 2019 and as WSC keeps growing there is need to assemble more national juries and expand the international ones.

Alessandro Marchetti, head of WSC Academic Committee