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Social media for researchers: Wikis

Information on how to use social media as a researcher

What is a wiki?

A wiki is a collaborative website: a page or collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accessit it to contribute or modify content.  Wikis support hyperlinks and have simple text syntax for creating new pages and cross-links between internal pages.  The user only needs access to a web browser.  Wikis can be useful as shared social spaces for team members who work remotely.  They can be used as collaborative authoring tools.  There is one document to work from rather than multiple copies circulating around the team.  Contributing authors can percolate their ideas longer and include more ideas in the draft as  a result of more frequent editing sessions.  Access can be controlled; wikis can be private to an individual or group and they can be read-only for sprecified groups.

Wikis in plain English  A short explanation of wikis and how they can used to coordinate a group


The most well-known example of a wiki is Wikipedia

How are wikis useful for researchers?

As a password-protected space for a researcher and their group which can be used:

  • as a document repository for agenda and minutes of metings; links to papers related to literature review
  • as a reflective space
  • for communicating progress reports to the team
  • as a space to write drafts of papers and reports
  • for collaborative authoring of papers and reports
  • as an external website to publicise research and publications
  • as a collaborative space for groups of researchers
  • as a space for a research group to build a community, e.g., a wiki on exploring virtual worlds and education and training


Wiki software packages available

There are a number of wiki packages available on the web


WikiMatrix helps you find the wikis that match your personal needs and allows you to compare different wikis.

Alternatives to wikis

Here are other types of collaborative editing tools:

  • Dropbox Free service that lets you bring your photos, documents and videos anywhere and share them easily.  See our advice on using Dropbox
  • Google Docs Enables you to collaborate with others on documents, spreadsheets, presetations, etc.
  • Padlet Enables people to post their thoughts on a topic by using electronic post-it notes.  Good for getting suggestions and ideas from a group of people