In 2005, Professor Stephen Wright had an article published in the Nursing Standard. If you're not a healthcare worker or social sciences academic you probably didn't read it. It's a specialist magazine for the industry, one which 'presents exclusive, up-to-the-minute coverage on issues that affect the entire nursing field'. The reason I mention it is because of what the article contains.
A panel on the left hand side of the page boldly displays a quote:
The Price of Progress
It is arguable that medicine and
health care are developing more
rapidly than at any period in history.
This is because of worldwide
improvements in communication and
teamwork. Keyhole surgery is being
developed and new drugs are being
tested constantly. There is much
interest in the mapping of the human
genome, which could open up new
ways of screening for diseases and
creating donor organs. Despite these
developments, the factors that
influence medical progress and
regression are still the same as they
have always been: religion, war,
individuals, teamwork, government
intervention and chance.
As the reference at the end tells you, Wright lifted it from an entry in the h2g2 Edited Guide, specifically A600418 - The History of Modern Medicine, written by the Researcher Fizzabert, and published on 1 October, 2001.
Of all the material Professor Wright researched to compile this article, he plainly felt that this quote from h2g2 encapsulated the point he was trying to make, and he was happy to reproduce it in the Nursing Standard.
h2g2 References in Academic Journals
This is by no means an isolated case. Academics from a multitude of disciplines are now starting to quote h2g2 Entries as source references for their research. Some of the journals are in very specialist fields and the papers often have quite esoteric titles. A few examples:
Ormondroyd's entry A637841 - McCarthyism is referenced in the August 2003 edition of Historical Sociolinguistics and Sociohistorical Linguistics, in an article entitled 'The impact of lexical anglicisms in Spanish film magazines: a case study across time'.
Emmily's entry A4350971 - Saucy seaside postcards – their ups and downs is referenced in Nov 2006, Vol. 6 Issue 4 of Sex Education, in an article entitled 'Sexual learning and the seaside: relocating the 'dirty weekend' and teenage girls' sexuality'.
Big Al's entry A2953 - PTFE - The Most Slippery Substance in the World is referenced in Feb 2007, Vol. 14 Issue 1 of Insect Science, in the article 'Advancement on techniques for the separation and maintenance of the red imported fire ant colonies'.
It's not only journals. Some reference books are getting in on the act. Three entries in the online version of Collins Italian Dictionary have h2g2 links: two to Candi's entry A791336 - Punk Music in Britain and one to Daddy Doodles' entry A657560 - RP - Received Pronunciation.
Patent applications sometimes quote external sources too, and there are a handful of h2g2 references in these. It's not just the inventor; the patent examiner may also cite reference documents when they make searches to ascertain the validity of the applicant's claims.
One example is Howard Stapleton's patent application for his 'Mosquito' device (he actually calls it a 'High Frequency Sound Teenager Dispersal Device'). On granting the patent (UK 2432655A, granted 28 June, 2006), the examiner cited the h2g2 Entry A2398845 - Dispersing a Crowd by the researcher Nuclear Confusion as a 'Document indicating technological background and/or state of the art'.
When I subsequently wrote an entry about this device (see A31699146 - The Mosquito - Sonic Teenager Deterrent) I never realised that h2g2 had played a small part in its invention.
Are My Entries Referenced?
I've started to compile a catalogue of published h2g2 references as I find them – mostly by searching through some academic search engines in idle moments. You can find the list at A46972182 - Published Academic References to h2g2 Entries. Feel free to have a browse, and if you know of any I've missed, then let me know and I'll add them.
Most of the referenced h2g2 Entries come naturally from the Edited Guide, but one or two are unedited. One was published in the h2g2 Post: Awix's film review A691887 - 24 Lies a Second covering the movie Vanilla Twice has been cited in the International Journal of Iberian Studies, 2002, Vol. 15 Issue 3, under the article 'Seeing double? The remaking of Alejandro's Amenábar's Abre los ojos as Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky'.
Now, if you want to read the text of any published articles which might link to your h2g2 entry, then sadly these are not generally available outside the academic community, who access them through their institute's subscription to a variety of research databases. Having said this, a student or other member of an academic establishment may be able to help you out, if you ask them nicely or ply them with beer.
h2g2 references are currently the exception rather than the rule. The website is small compared to other resources, and relatively young, too. In addition, its writing guidelines don't encourage the kind of easily-referenceable yet sterile fact-fests that litter Wikipedia, neither do they insist on formal lists of source references.
Yet h2g2 entries frequently offer a different take on a subject. Our writing guidelines allow the author to illustrate points in their chosen written style, adding a dimension of authenticity and realism. In addition, the site has a trusted system of Peer Review. It is also backed by a highly-respected organisation in the BBC.
Later this year, h2g2 will celebrate its tenth birthday, and it will also at some point pass the milestone of 10,000 entries in the Edited Guide. It is difficult to see how it will ever reach the millions of entries on other sites, yet of that 10,000, every one is a hand-crafted submission from a galactic researcher out in the field. In years to come, the message will continue to grow and we can expect to see the word of h2g2 permeate ever further into the fabric of academic research.