DrumCorpsWiki:No original research

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DrumCorpsWiki is not the place for original research. Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: the only way to verifiably demonstrate that you are not doing original research is to cite reliable sources which provide information that is directly related to the article, and to adhere to what those sources say.

DrumCorpsWiki:No original research is one of three content policies. The other two are DrumCorpsWiki:Neutral point of view and DrumCorpsWiki:Verifiability. The policies are complementary, jointly determining the type and quality of material that is acceptable. They should therefore not be interpreted in isolation from each other, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three.

What is original research?

Original research is a term used on DrumCorpsWiki to refer to material added to articles by DrumCorpsWiki editors that has not been published already by a reputable source. In this context it means unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, and ideas; or any new interpretation, analysis, or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, or arguments that, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation".

Primary and secondary sources

  • Primary sources present information or data, such as archeological artifacts; film, video or photographs (but see below); historical documents such as a diary, census, transcript of a public hearing, trial, or interview; tabulated results of surveys or questionnaires, records of laboratory assays or observations; records of field observations.
  • Secondary sources present a generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of information or data from other sources.

Original research that creates primary sources is not allowed. However, research that consists of collecting and organizing information from existing primary and/or secondary sources is, of course, strongly encouraged. All articles on DrumCorpsWiki should be based on information collected from published primary and secondary sources. This is not "original research"; it is "source-based research", and it is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia.

In some cases, where an article (1) makes descriptive claims the accuracy of which is easily verifiable by any reasonable adult without specialist knowledge, and (2) makes no analytic, synthetic, interpretive, or evaluative claims, a DrumCorpsWiki article may be based entirely on primary sources (examples would include apple pie or current events), but these are exceptions.

DrumCorpsWiki articles include material on the basis of verifiability, not truth. That is, we report what other reliable sources have published, whether or not we regard the material as accurate. In order to avoid doing original research, and in order to help improve the quality of DrumCorpsWiki articles, it is essential that any primary-source material, as well as any generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of information or data, has been published by a reputable third-party publication (that is, not self-published) that is available to readers either from a website (other than DrumCorpsWiki) or through a public library. It is very important to cite sources appropriately, so that readers can find your source and can satisfy themselves that DrumCorpsWiki has used the source correctly.

In some cases, there may be controversy or debate over what constitutes a legitimate or reputable authority or source. Where no agreement can be reached about this, the article should provide an account of the controversy and of the different authorities or sources. Such an account also helps ensure the article’s neutral point of view.

Why do we exclude original research?

The original motivation for the no original research policy was to combat a real issue at Wikipedia: people with personal theories that very few people take seriously, such as cranks and trolls, would attempt to use Wikipedia to draw attention to these theories and to themselves. It is clear that this material does not belong at Wikipedia, but it was difficult to exclude it under other policies: often the cranks will cite their own irreputable publications, providing verifiability, and choose theories that are difficult to prove false. But precisely because the expert community does not take their work seriously, they are almost never published in a reputable peer-reviewed publication, allowed Wikipedia to apply this rule.

Although this was the motivation, original research is more than just no personal crank theories. Applied to all editors, it helps secure DrumCorpsWiki's reputation in a number of important ways:

  1. It is an obligation of DrumCorpsWiki to its readers that the information they read here be reliable and reputable, and so we rely only on credible or reputable published sources. See "What counts as a reputable publication?" and "Reliable sources" for discussions on how to judge whether a source is reliable.
  2. Credible sources provide readers with resources they may consult to pursue their own research. After all, there are people who turn to encyclopedias as a first step in research, not as a last step.
  3. Relying on citable sources helps clarify what points of view are represented in an article, and thus helps us comply with our NPOV policy.
  4. Relying on credible sources also may encourage new contributors. For example, if someone knows of an important source that the article has not drawn on, he or she may feel more confident in adding important material to the article.

What is excluded?

An edit counts as original research if it proposes ideas or arguments. That is:

  • it introduces a theory or method of solution; or
  • it introduces original ideas; or
  • it defines new terms; or
  • it provides new definitions of pre-existing terms; or
  • it introduces an argument (without citing a reputable source for that argument) which purports to refute or support another idea, theory, argument, or position; or
  • it introduces or uses neologisms, without attributing the neologism to a reputable source; or
  • it introduces a synthesis of established facts in a way that builds a particular case favored by the editor, without attributing the synthesis to a reputable source.

If you have an idea that you think should become part of the corpus of knowledge that is DrumCorpsWiki, the best approach is to arrange to have your results published in a peer-reviewed journal or reputable news outlet, and then document your work in an appropriately non-partisan manner.

The fact that we exclude something does not necessarily mean the material is bad – DrumCorpsWiki is simply not the proper venue for it. We would have to turn away even Pulitzer-level journalism and Nobel-level science if its authors tried to publish it first on DrumCorpsWiki.

The role of expert editors

"No original research" does not mean that experts on a specific topic cannot contribute to DrumCorpsWiki. On the contrary, Wikipedia welcomes experts. We assume, however, that someone is an expert not only because of their personal and direct knowledge of a topic, but because of their knowledge of published sources on a topic. This policy prohibits expert editors from drawing on their personal and direct knowledge if such knowledge is unverifiable. If an expert editor has published the results of his or her research elsewhere, in a reputable publication, the editor can cite that source while writing in the third person and complying with our NPOV policy. They must cite publications, and may not use their unpublished knowledge as a source of information (which would be impossible to verify).

Otherwise, we hope expert editors will draw on their knowledge of other published sources to enrich our articles. However, such experts do not occupy a privileged position within DrumCorpsWiki.

How to deal with DrumCorpsWiki entries about theories

For theories:

  1. state the key concepts;
  2. state the known and popular ideas and identify general "consensus", making clear which is which, and bearing in mind that extreme-minority theories or views need not be included.

Unstable neologisms, and ideas stemming from one individual who is not an authority, or from a small group of such individuals, should either go to articles for deletion (because they "fail the test of confirmability", not because they are necessarily false), or should be copyedited out.

What counts as a reputable publication?

Reputable publications include peer-reviewed journals, books published by a known academic publishing house or university press, and divisions of a general publisher which have a good reputation for scholarly publications.

For non-academic subjects, it is impossible to pin down a clear definition of "reputable". In general, most of us have a good intuition about the meaning of the word. A magazine or press release self-published by a very extreme political or religious group would often not be regarded as "reputable".

Ask yourself some questions when you are evaluating a publication. Is it openly partisan? Does it have a large or very small readership? Is it a vanity publisher? Is it run principally by a single person, or does it have a large, permanent staff? Does it seem to have any system of peer review, or do you get the feeling that it shoots from the hip? If you heard that the publication you are about to use as a source was considering publishing a very negative article about you, would you (a) be terrified because you suspect they are irresponsible and do not fact-check; or (b) feel somewhat reassured because the publication employs several layers of editing staff, fact-checkers, lawyers, an editor-in-chief, and a publisher, and will usually correct its mistakes? If it is (a), do not use it as a source. If it is (b), it is what DrumCorpsWiki calls "reputable".

When dispute arises regarding whether a publication is reputable, you can attempt to get more editors involved and work toward a consensus. There is no clear definition, but don't ignore your intuition.

Original images

Pictures have enjoyed a broad exception from the NOR policy. DrumCorpsWiki editors have always been encouraged to take photos or draw pictures and upload them, releasing them under the GFDL or another free licence, to illustrate articles. There are several reasons this is welcomed:

  • Pictures are generally used for illustration and do not propose unpublished ideas or arguments, the core reason behind the NOR policy.
  • Due to copyright law in a number of countries and its relationship to the work of building a free encyclopedia, there are relatively few publicly available images we can take and use. DrumCorpsWiki editors' pictures fill a needed role.

A known disadvantage of allowing original photographs to be uploaded is the possibility of editors using photo manipulation to distort the facts or position being illustrated by the photo. Manipulated images should be prominently noted as such and, if they are not, should be posted to DrumCorpsWiki:Images for deletion. Even noted as having been manipulated, they should not be used to illustrate articles in the main namespace, although editors are free to make use of them on user pages.

Images that constitute original research in any other way are not allowed, such as a diagram of a hydrogen atom showing extra particles in the nucleus as theorized by the uploader. All uploaded pictures are subject to Wikipedia's other policies and guidelines, notably DrumCorpsWiki:Verifiability, and DrumCorpsWiki:Neutral point of view.

Related policies and guidelines


By insisting that only facts, assertions, theories, ideas, claims, opinions, and arguments that have already been published by a reputable publisher may be published in DrumCorpsWiki, the no-original-research and verifiability policies reinforce one another.

The threshold for inclusion in DrumCorpsWiki is verifiability, not truth.

See DrumCorpsWiki:Verifiability for more detailed information, and Wikipedia:Cite sources for examples of citation styles.

DrumCorpsWiki:Neutral point of view

The prohibition against original research limits the possibility of an editor presenting his or her own point of view in an article. Moreover, by reinforcing the importance of including verifiable research produced by others, this policy promotes the inclusion of multiple points of view in an article. Consequently, this policy reinforces our neutral point of view policy.

In many cases, there are multiple established views of any given topic. In such cases, no single position, no matter how well researched, is authoritative. It is not the responsibility of any one editor to research all points of view. But when incorporating research into an article, it is important that editors situate the research; that is, provide contextual information about the point of view, indicating how prevalent the position is, and whether it is held by a majority or minority.

Disputes over how established a view is

The inclusion of a view that is held only by a tiny minority may constitute original research because there may be a lack of sufficiently credible, third-party, published sources to back it up.

See DrumCorpsWiki:Neutral point of view for more detailed information.

Origin of this policy: the opinion of Wikipedia's founder

Wikipedia's founder, Jimbo Wales, has described original research as follows:

The phrase "original research" originated primarily as a practical means to deal with physics cranks, of which of course there are a number on the Web. The basic concept is as follows: It can be quite difficult for us to make any valid judgment as to whether a particular thing is true or not. It isn't appropriate for us to try to determine whether someone's novel theory of physics is valid; we aren't really equipped to do that. But what we can do is check whether or not it actually has been published in reputable journals or by reputable publishers. So it's quite convenient to avoid judging the credibility of things by simply sticking to things that have been judged credible by people much better equipped to decide. The exact same principle will hold true for history" [1]

Some who completely understand why Wikipedia ought not create novel theories of physics by citing the results of experiments and so on and synthesizing them into something new, may fail to see how the same thing applies to history. [2]

On talk pages and project pages

Like most DrumCorpsWiki policies, No original research applies to articles, not to talk pages or project pages, although it is regarded as poor taste to discuss personal theories on talk pages.

See also

Further reading

The original source of this article is from Wikipedia, used under the terms of the Wikipedia:GFDL. See this article's Talk page for details.