Wikimedia Resident and Scholar Program

Wikimedia Resident and Scholar Program Australia

The Wikimedia community has developed a number of programs to support contributions across a range of areas and enhance access to quality research sources, expert knowledge and technical innovations through partnerships with universities, libraries, museums and other public institutions. Key initiatives that support these activities are the Wikimedian in Residence (WiR) and the Wikimedia Visiting Scholars programs which have been running internationally and in Australia since 2010.

The aim of a Wikimedian in residence or a visiting scholar/researcher program is to engage organisations to host editors, content creators or community engagement professionals to work on Wikimedia related projects for a period of time - either in paid or voluntary positions.

Wikimedian in Residence (WiR) is the most well-established and flexible model for organisations to support Wikimedia activities. WiRs may be hosted by a range of institutions such as universities, research organisations, museums and libraries, may work on any Wikimedia platform, and undertake a variety of roles. Examples include writing and editing Wikipedia articles, managing dataset uploads on Wikidata, image and non-text media uploads on Wiki Commons, collecting audience engagement metrics or running edit-a-thons. WiRs are usually in paid positions for a set period of time supported by their host organisation often employed or contracted in research analyst, associate or communications positions.

Wikimedia Visiting Scholars are usually hosted by a university or library which provides access to institutional collections to support Wikipedia editors or other Wikimedia contributions to develop or enhance content. Scholars are generally unpaid positions but may receive an honorarium. These positions provide expert editors with access to both knowledge resources and a community of experts.



The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) and Wikimedia Australia (WMAU) support institutional partnerships where organisations engage in sharing information, comply with the community rules, participate in social discourse, and support Wikimedia’s mission and values. In all cases it is important that the host institution engages with the Wikimedian and that the purpose is to develop impartial knowledge resources of value to the wider community as well as the institution. Extensive support and information is also available online on how to edit and participate in Wikimedia platforms and the Wikimedia Australia committee and community will provide ongoing support and advice to the host organisation and the WiR/Scholar over the course of the residency as far as practicable. Depending on the nature of the role mentorships may be able to be provided by expert community members. WiRs/Scholar roles may be initiated by individuals, groups or institutions and do not need to be approved by WMAU or the WMF however we recommend consulting with the WMAU committee and posting details on WMAU and WMF websites to promote the program and enhance engagement and community support.


Most residencies and scholar roles are for at least 3 months and may go for 12 months or longer. A regular weekly time commitment is required and WiRs or Scholars may be engaged on a full-time or part-time basis. At least 1 day per week is recommended for WiRs while scholar roles may be more ad hoc.

Establishing a WiR/Scholar at your organisation

  • Identify the goals for the resident/scholar
  • Confirm the format: duration, hours per week etc.
  • Secure funds and permissions for access to resources
  • Contact WMAU for advice and promotion
  • Recruit a resident/scholar
  • Undertake and support the activities of the residency program across the organisation and with the Wikimedia Australia community
  • Monitor and receive progress reports and final report as required.

Institution responsibilities

  • Designate a key contact person for the role to help the WiR/Scholar get connected and familiar with the organisation’s staff, research interests and resources.
  • Create a plan for the WiR role, focus and success criteria with scope for adapting as the residency develops.
  • Designate a workspace and computing equipment if required.
  • Support some level of institutional and broader engagement activities
  • Understand what is acceptable and not acceptable within Conflict of Interest policies, and other related on-wiki policies.

Who can be a WiR/Scholar?

WiRs/Scholars may be experienced contributors to Wikimedia platforms or inexperienced but with other relevant skills valuable for the host organisation. Several characteristics make especially effective Wikimedians in Residence:

  • Experience or a demonstrated willingness to learn how to work with digital or online communities or with volunteer organising.
  • Experience communicating with different kinds of audiences.
  • Ability to learn and teach technical skills and community dynamics.
  • Experience working with professionals from the kinds of professional communities at or supported by the institution.
  • Comfort and experience doing writing and research.
  • Comfort with technology, and contributing to social media and online platforms.


WiRs/Scholars may be paid or unpaid positions depending on the program adopted with funds provided by the host institution. External funding may be available from Wikimedia Australia in the form of a grant or co-funding depending on the nature of the project and available funds. Financial support for public events and edit-a-thons may also be provided.

Conflict of interest

Wikipedia has a “policy with legal implications” on disclosure of paid contributions and a conflict of interest behavioral guideline. However well-established program procedures are in place for identifying a WiR and guidelines on ensuring compliance with WMF rules.

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