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CZ:Original Research Policy/HVL proposal

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The following is a draft, based on a recent version of Wikipedia (November 2007) but adapted to the aims of Citizendium

Citizendium is generally not a publisher of original thought, nor a forum for promoting its own point of view; all material (facts and interpretations) of standard articles must be verifiable by means of references to reliable sources that contain these facts. In rare cases a synthesis of facts may naturally emerge that suggests to the readers a new, unpublished view. In addition, Citizendium provides space for essays that are written by experts.

Original research is a term used in Citizendium to refer to unpublished facts, arguments, concepts, statements, or theories. The term does not apply to unpublished synthesis of published material.

  • Citizendium is not a venue for publishing, publicizing or promoting original research in any way.
  • In short, the only way to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research is to cite reliable sources that provide information directly related to the topic of the article; the only way to demonstrate that you are not inserting your own point of view is to represent these sources and the views they reflect accurately.
  • Since our different policies complement each other, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another; authors and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all of them. See [1].

Reliable Sources

Research that consists of collecting and organizing material from existing sources within the provisions of this and other content policies is encouraged: this is "source-based research," and it is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia. However, care should be taken to not "go beyond" what is expressed in the sources, nor use them in ways inconsistent with the intent of the source, such as using the information out of context. In short, stick to the sources.

Any material that is likely to be challenged must be supported by a reliable source. "Original research" is a claim for which no reliable published source can be found. Producing a reliable published source that advances the same claim taken in context is the only way to disprove an assertion that a claim constitutes original research. If there is a source, but the source or claim is disputed, that is not original research but rather of a question of reliable sourcing. However, using information from references out-of-context or to forward claims not directly supported by the sources is original research.

In general, the most reliable sources are books, journals and other periodicals published by university presses or reputable publishing houses. As a rule of thumb, the more people engaged in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing, the more reliable the publication. Material that is self-published, whether on paper or online, is generally not regarded as reliable except for information about the author and his/her ideas.

Correctly using information from sources

To the extent that an article or particular part of an article relies on a source, that part of the article should:

  • only make descriptive claims about the information found in the source, the accuracy and relevance of which is easily verifiable by any expert, and
  • make no unnecessary analytic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about that information.

Wherever possible, use appropriate sources for support of interpretive claims and analysis.

Synthesis of published material serving to advance a new opinion

Authors often make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article to advance that "A and B, therefore C". However, this is only acceptable if:

  • a reliable source has published this argument in relation to the topic of the article, or if
  • Citizendium experts agree that it is correct beyond reasonable doubt and pertinent for the article.

Citing oneself

This policy does not prohibit authors with specialist knowledge from adding their knowledge to Citizendium, but - with the exception of essays - it does prohibit them from drawing on their personal knowledge without citing their sources. If an author has published the results of his or her research in a reliable publication, the author may cite that source while writing in the third person and complying with our Neutrality policy. Beware also of possible conflicts of interest.

Original images

Pictures have enjoyed a broad exception from this policy, in that Citizendium editors are encouraged to take photographs or draw pictures or diagrams and upload them, releasing them under the GFDL or another free license, to illustrate articles. This is welcomed because images usually do not propose unpublished ideas or arguments, the core reason behind this policy. Also, because of copyright law in a number of countries and its relationship to the work of building a free encyclopedia, there are relatively few publicly available images we can take and use. Citizendium editors' pictures fill a needed role.

A disadvantage of allowing original photographs to be uploaded is the possibility of editors using photo manipulation to distort the facts or position being illustrated by the photo. Manipulated images should be prominently noted as such. Images that constitute original research in any other way are not allowed, such as a diagram of a hydrogen atom showing extra particles in the nucleus as theorized by the uploader.