Project Details Synchronizing Wikipedia: Polymer Definitions and Terminology

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 December 2015
End Date:
Division Name:


Wikipedia has become a de facto tool for learning information about many technical fields. In a first project (2011-013-2-400), we successfully demonstrated how to synchronize Wikipedia and IUPAC documents (M. Walker and M. Hess, Chem. Int., March-April 2014, 19). In this project, which builds upon the prior experience, there are five (5) new and different objectives:

  • Check Wikipedia polymer-relevant entries against existing Division IV Terminology & Nomenclature documents for consistency and take appropriate action when required;
  • Identify Division IV documents that should contribute a Wikipedia entry and prepare such an entry;
  • Check incomplete Wikipedia entries, so-called ‘stubs’ and provide a complete entry;
  • Consider terms from new IUPAC documents to be placed/linked to Wikipedia;
  • Monitor the statistics of IUPAC-produced entries in Wikipedia.


The project entails the incorporation into Wikipedia of IUPAC approved terminology related to polymer chemistry. This is a very timely project because of the growing importance of sources such as Wikipedia in everyday use as a replacement for glossaries, reference books and dictionaries. In the first corresponding project (2011-013-2-400) we tested ways suited to accept IUPAC contributions to Wikipedia (M. Walker, M. Hess, Chem. Int., April/March, 2014, 19). Based on these very successful experiences it is clear that a new project will have an empowering effect on numerous communities throughout the world ranging from academia, schools, industry, and the general public. The elaborated objectives have been constructed with this in mind.

The tasks tied to each objective will be as follows:

  1. Check Wikipedia polymer-relevant entries against existing Division IV Terminology & Nomenclature documents (specifically starting with the Purple Book, and then working through the more recent publications by the Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology) for consistency and take appropriate action where required. Furthermore, in addition to creating links to relevant Pure Appl. Chem. references, links to and from the Division’s educational website will be made.
  2. Identify Division IV terms from documents that should contribute a Wikipedia entry and prepare such an entry. In rare cases, it will be necessary to transcribe the whole document to Wikipedia, as per the example of the IUPAC Brief Guide to Polymer Nomenclature, now on Wikipedia.
  3. Check incomplete Wikipedia entries, so-called ‘stubs’ and provide a complete entry.
  4. All new IUPAC documents will be checked by the Task Group for linking with Wikipedia and/or creation of a corresponding new Wikipedia entry. A guideline in which cases and how to do that will be prepared and offered to the Division(s). Wikipedia also raises the interesting question of graphics and even videos. We will also work to establish recommendations for such new media as both material for addition to Wikipedia and for IUPAC in general to consider as part of its own website(s) as part of an educational program within this project.
  5. The statistics of (some selected) Wikipedia entries (preferably those written by IUPAC members and new ones) should be monitored.

Each of the above tasks will be respectively carried out in the following specific manner.

Task 1: there will be an active participation of students as ‘scouts’ who will identify corresponding entries under the supervision of the Task Group Members. The motivation for this is that each student will learn, as part of an educational program, how to: access and employ IUPAC recommendations in a world-wide context; edit Wikipedia; use electronic communication effectively for educational purposes; and gain an overview of Wikipedia editing tools. There should be a significant budget provided to support these students. Their work can be seen as part of an educational program. They will also identify polymer-relevant Wikipedia entries where there is no IUPAC definition available. It will be checked if the educational aspect can be fostered by providing special graphics or even videos.

Task 2. can also in parts be dealt with by students, this, however, requires much more supervision, however, experienced students can be helpful in the formalities and editing that is required when placing or modifying a Wikipedia entry.

Task 3. here the cooperation of the whole Division is required to deal with the problem of incomplete Wikipedia entries. A concept has to be developed how to deal with Wikipedia entries with no corresponding IUPAC entries.

Task 4. all Division IV working parties are asked to contribute to this point. For the aspect of including new media, again the assistance of capable students is required.

Task 5. the number of hits on the websites should give a representative measure of the impact of the IUPAC documents adapted to Wikipedia customs. Otherwise, there is practically no measure of IUPAC terminology and nomenclature documents since the common citation index is of no use.


July 2020 update – A student, Jordan Garo, at the Université de Pau, successfully completed numerous IUPAC-Wiki entries. These entries were reviewed and further efforts made to continue the work. However, this came to a halt in fall 2019 after a review of the copyright: IUPAC’s gold book license has been changed to CC BY-NC-ND (non-commercial and non-derivative use of terms with attribution) in a way that Wikipedia could not agree to. Acceptable for Wikipedia is CC-BY-SA. How to resolve this issue is an on-going consideration. The work is temporarily at a stop point.

Page last updated 27 July 2020