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Medical students at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will be able to get course credit for editing Wikipedia articles about diseases, part of an effort to improve the quality of medical articles in the online encyclopedia and help distribute the articles globally via mobile phones.

Although professors often incorporate Wikipedia work into classes, hoping that student research can live on online, the university and others say this is the first time a medical school will give credit for such work.

“We as a profession have our corpus of knowledge, and we owe it as a profession to educate the lay public," says Amin Azzam, a health sciences associate clinical professor at the UCSF School of Medicine, who will teach the month-long elective course in December.

The course is open to fourth-year medical students, Azzam says, adding that Wikipedia editing will force students to think clearly and avoid jargon.

The students’ editing will be part of WikiProject Medicine, which focuses contributors on the 100 or so most significant medical articles, including those on tuberculosis and syphilis, but especially on those important articles that need the most editing (the project lists more than 350 active editors, many of whom cite an advanced degree under the header “medical qualification").

©2013/The New York Times

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