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Study update: Cancer information on Wikipedia is accurate, but not very readable
Date:9/15/2011

PHILADELPHIA--It is a commonly held that information on Wikipedia should not be trusted, since it is written and edited by non-experts without professional oversight. But researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have found differently, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Reassuringly, they found that cancer information found on a wiki was actually similar in accuracy and depth to the information on a peer-reviewed, patient-oriented cancer web site. There is one caveat, however: they found that the information on the peer-reviewed site was written in plainer English.

Data from this study was presented at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago, but the full study, with some new details, was published online Sept. 15.

New data revealed that Wikipedia ranks higher in search engine results and updates faster. It also shed light on those hyperlinks embedded into content: Wikipedia takes you to more dense information, the researchers found, whereas a peer-reviewed site offer up a simplified, shorter explanations.

For the study, researchers led by Yaacov Lawrence M.D., adjunct assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and currently Director of the Center for Translational Research in Radiation Oncology at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, compared the cancer information found on Wikipedia with the information found on the patient-oriented section of the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ), a comprehensive peer-reviewed cancer database.

"There are a vast number of web sites where patients can obtain cancer information," Dr. Lawrence said. "The purpose of this study was to answer one question: Is the cancer information on Wikipedia correct? Reassuringly, we found that errors were extremely rare on Wikipedia. But the way information was p
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Contact: Steve Graff
stephen.graff@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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