Case Study: Duke University Libraries’ Women in Science and Philosophy Edit-a-Thon

Written by Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian, Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University

On March 29, 2016, Duke University Libraries hosted our third edit-a-thon. This year we were approached by a group who wanted to host an event focused on women in philosophy, related to Project Vox ( This topic was in line with our idea about having an edit-a-thon on women in the sciences, with a focus women represented in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection ( and featured in an exhibit on display in spring 2016.

We gathered names and information files from the Duke Medical Center Archives, University Archives, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, members of Project Vox, and some independent contributions from a member of the Italian program. The people nominated for new entries or editing included early modern women in philosophy and science, women in STEM with a connection to Duke, or women in STEM whose papers are held by the Bingham Center.

Dr. Jane Richardson, a James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry who developed the ribbon-diagram as the first 3-D representation of protein structures and experienced Wikipedia editor, led the program with the basics about editing on Wikipedia and examples of her own work in improving articles related to science and uploading more images to the Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. Richardson recommended the book How Wikipedia Works: And how You Can be a Part of it by Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, Ben Yates as a reference for getting started.

As with past edit-a-thons, about a dozen people attended with most people staying for the three hour period, with a mix of graduate students and library staff (including some from other universities), and one stalwart undergraduate. Engaging undergraduate attendance continues to be a challenge to unlock. RSVPs on facebook and through the Meetup page were unreliable again.  It was a productive session, with eight new articles created and several improved with smaller edits.

The elements of our event that worked particularly well included:

  • We pushed tables together to form a big table so that everyone was seated in circle. Some worked in pairs or just asked for help across the table as needed.
  • One participant shared that you can use Zotero to export citations into Wikipedia format. This does require some clean-up, but is much easier than inputting a citation by hand, especially if you are creating a list of publications for an author.

Articles Created: (pending review) (in Italian!)

Articles edited:

Duke Edit-a-thon Links

Women of Science and Philosophy 2016:

Women at Duke 2015:,_NC/

Women at Duke 2014: