Three Australian Scientists Are The Most Cited Authors On Wikipedia

The most cited source on Wikipedia is decade ago academic paper that was written by three Australians and is related to global climate zones. It has bene cited and referenced over 2.8m times.

But it was not until recently that the wider impact of their paper was known at all to the three authors of the paper.

A widely used model for classifying the world’s climates was updated by the three authors using contemporary data and the paper was published in 2007 in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

It climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884 who first published the model that is known as the Köppen Climate Classification System. but it was decades that it had been comprehensively updated.

Dr Murray Peel, a senior lecturer in the department of infrastructure engineering at the University of Melbourne, was the lead author who teamed up with geography professor Brian Finlayson and engineering professor Thomas McMahon, to updated climate map.

“We are amazed, absolutely amazed at the number of citations,” Finlayson told Guardian Australia from his home in Melbourne. “We are not so much amazed at the fact it’s been cited as we are about the number of people who have cited it.

“It’s pleasing that research you’ve done is something other people are finding useful.”

It was not until a journalist from Wired got in touch with the authors about the outcome of the analysis by Wikipedia for the top 10 sources by citation across every Wikipedia language that they became aware of the widespread impact of their paper even though they anticipated some talk in the academic circle because the model used was a [popular one, said Finlayson said.

There were 2,830,341 citations for the updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The nearest paper with citations was a papper published in te Journal of Physical Chemistry that had 21,350 citations.

The importance of open science is reflected by the popularity of the paper, Finlayson said. the concept of open science professes the free availability of data and findings so that other s can make use of them. Credible citations are crucial to the encyclopaedia’s reliability and Wikipedia operates on a similar concept.

“journal we originally published the paper in is free and open access, and we chose the journal for that reason,” he said. “People noticed and said, ‘Hey, we have an updated climate map, we’ll use that’, and then it spread.”

It was very rare to have open journals ta that time.

“I have always been a supporter of open science,” Finlayson said. “Research is no good to anyone locked in a cupboard, or published in a journal you have to pay a lot of money to access.”

(Adapted from


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