Original research

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Original Research is a term used in online encyclopedias to describe claims, theories, or observations that shouldn't be used as sources or references for encyclopedia articles. The term implicitly casts doubt on the value of this research. The main reason to reject original research is that it's less likely to be true. In fact it may be downright wrong; being based on cognitive errors, cultural bias, personal notions, pseudoscience, "half-baked" theories, or outright ignorance. Original research may be disconnected from mainstream research, ignoring a large body of established work and consensus. As such, proponents of original research are often victims of the Dunning-Kruger effect. They may insultingly be called crackpots, cranks, or con artists.

The term is also used more benignly in the sciences to describe genuine new insights or observations that may or may not have been published in peer reviewed journals, but that haven't been generally accepted yet.[1]

Also see: Wikipedia:No original research


Wikipedia calls it research that is not "based on a summary, review or synthesis of earlier publications". It is primary source material: new knowledge, rather than existing knowledge summarized or organized. It may present raw experimental data, offer a novel interpretation of earlier data, or a new way of approaching its subject. Existing understanding is being re-interpreted in a way that has not yet been accepted yet.[2]

However, if it passes a rigorous peer review process, original research may be published in an established journal,[3] and eventually become established research. Then it can be cited in encyclopedia articles. Graduate students are required to perform original research that must be accepted as plausible by their course supervisors.

Until it has been properly reviewed and accepted by other researchers, original research is more likely to be wrong. That makes it unsuitable as source material for encyclopedias. In practice, much of what is called original research should not be considered research at all, but mild or severe forms of delusion or deception.


One controversy is whether published papers that have not yet been accepted as plausible by their research communities should be listed as references in encyclopedia articles. Articles on well established subjects should generally cite established sources.

Just because research is wrong doesn't mean it can't be included in an encyclopedia, but it must be accepted as a legitimate line of inquiry, or part of an established body of work. It should represent a best effort at establishing the truth, or be culturally notable for other reasons. Research should be an open-ended group effort. If it's the work of a single researcher who is generally rejected by others it's more likely to be wrong. One warning sign is if they don't have suitable academic qualifications. In that case original researchers are often considered cranks.[4]

When dealing with controversial or marginal subjects, the references listed may not be as authoritative as in mainstream articles. Different encyclopedias have different article requirements. Articles that can't cite accepted sources may be deleted, but most deletion controversies are about notability. The inclusion of some original research in encyclopedia articles may be unavoidable, but it should be minimized.


Some original researchers may have been ahead of their time, or made legitimate points that weren't accepted, but that seems to be rare.[5] Many "pseudoscience" articles have been deleted from Wikipedia, for example about the theories of Nasim Haramein [6].

Wikipedia has been accused by its rival Conservapedia and others of having a hidden liberal bias. Hidden political assumptions in articles could affect their meaning.[7] Biographies about transgendered persons are immediately switched to their preferred gender pronouns despite scientific disagreement about gender identity.[8] Conservapedia also claims Wikipedia strives to normalize homosexuality.[9]

External links


  1. University of Kansas (July 31, 2011). "Formatting Original Research". Retrieved December 3, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. University of Wisconsin, "Original Research or Literature Review?", http://people.uwec.edu/piercech/ResearchMethods/Differences%20between%20original%20research%20and/differences%20between%20original%20research%20and%20literature%20surveys%20index.htm, retrieved 2016/12/03
  3. What is original research?, UNF Library, http://libguides.unf.edu/originalresearch, retrieved 2016/12/03
  4. http://timeblimp.com/?page_id=286
  5. http://www.eoht.info/page/Crackpot
  6. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Nassim_Haramein
  7. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/is-wikipedia-more-biased-than-encyclopdia-britannica
  8. "Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme", Paul McHugh, 2015, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/, retrieved 2016/12/02
  9. http://www.conservapedia.com/Examples_of_Bias_in_Wikipedia