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James Heilman

james heilman, james heilman obituary
James M "Doc James" Heilman is a Canadian emergency room physician, Wikipedian, and advocate for the improvement of Wikipedia's health-related content He encourages other clinicians to contribute to the online encyclopaedia

He is an active contributor to WikiProject Medicine, is a volunteer Wikipedia administrator, was the president of Wikimedia Canada between 2010 and 2013, and founded and was formerly the president of Wiki Project Med Foundation He is also the founder of WikiProject Medicine's Medicine Translation Task Force In June 2015, he was elected to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, a position which he held until he was removed on December 28, 2015

Heilman is a clinical assistant professor at the department of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia, and the head of the department of emergency medicine at East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook, British Columbia, where he lives He often works the night shift in the emergency room at East Kootenay Regional Hospital


  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Medical career
  • 3 Research
  • 4 Wikipedia and Wikimedia activities
    • 41 Ebola contributions
    • 42 Rorschach test images
    • 43 Textbook plagiarism
    • 44 Tenure on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
    • 45 Other
  • 5 Personal life
  • 6 Wikipedia-related publications
  • 7 References

Early life and education

Heilman was born and raised in rural Saskatchewan He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in anatomy, and he subsequently earned his medical degree there in 2003 He then completed his residency in British Columbia

Medical career

Heilman worked at Moose Jaw Union Hospital, a hospital in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, until 2010, when he began working at East Kootenay Regional Hospital, where, in October 2012, he was appointed head of the department of emergency medicine


As of May 2014, Heilman was working on a study with Samir Grover, of the University of Toronto, which would assign medical students to take a test using either Wikipedia or medical textbooks to determine which is more accurate Heilman also worked on a study with Microsoft which found that in the three countries where the Ebola outbreak had the largest impact, Wikipedia was the most popular source for information about the disease In 2015, Heilman and Andrew West published a study which found that the number of Wikipedia editors who focused on editing medical articles decreased by 40 percent from 2008 to 2013 These results, together with other detailed analyses about the production and consumption of medical content on Wikipedia, were published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2015

Wikipedia and Wikimedia activities

Play media Question and answer session with Dr Heilman about editing Wikipedia at the University of British Columbia

Since the beginning of his activity as a contributor to medicine-related Wikipedia articles in 2008, Heilman has been promoting the improvement of medical content by encouraging fellow physicians to take part He became interested in editing Wikipedia on a slow night shift, when he looked up the article on obesity and found that it contained many errors "I realized that I could fix it I made a huge number of edits and improved the quality a great deal I sort of became hooked from there," he told the Hamilton Spectator in 2011

Heilman takes part in an initiative through Wiki Project Med Foundation with Translators Without Borders, working to improve and translate English Wikipedia medical articles of top importance into minority languages The Wiki Project Med Foundation has started a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco as a recruit for scientifically literate editors, by giving students college credit for improving medicine-related Wikipedia pages In 2014, the Wiki Project Med Foundation also partnered with the Cochrane Collaboration, with the goal of improving the reliability and accuracy of information on Wikipedia With regard to this partnership, Heilman said, "The way Wikipedia works is that all content is to stand entirely on the references that are listed If the best quality sources are used to write Wikipedia there's a good chance that Wikipedia will contain the best quality information"

Heilman spoke at Wikimania 2014, where he said that 93% of medical students use Wikipedia, and argued that "fixing the internet" is now a critical task for anyone who cares about healthcare

Ebola contributions

By reviewing and correcting medical content in the manner promoted by Heilman and with many of his contributions, in Wikipedia articles like that about Ebola, Wikipedia has become a source of information to the general public, thus being regarded among respected sites run by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, covering the topic Heilman reduced the time he spent working in the emergency room so he could spend more time updating this page In 2014, he told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman that with respect to Wikipedia's coverage of Ebola, “The big thing is emphasizing what we know, making sure that minor concerns don’t get blown out of proportion" He also said that, despite rumours to the contrary, there was no evidence that the disease had become airborne, and that ebola had caused far fewer deaths than other conditions such as malaria and gastroenteritis

Rorschach test images

In 2009, Heilman, who was then a resident of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, added public domain images of the ink blots used in the Rorschach test to the Wikipedia article on the subject, and concerned psychologists said that this could invalidate the tests Some psychologists stated the test had "already lost its popularity and usefulness" In an interview with The New York Times, Heilman stated that he added the entire set because a debate about a single image seemed absurd and psychologists' fears were unfounded Appearing on Canada AM on July 31, 2009, Heilman also said that "This information is encyclopedic This is what people expect to see when they see this page" In August 2009, two Canadian psychologists filed complaints about Heilman to his local doctors' organization; Heilman called the complaints "intimidation tactics" In September 2009, the College of Psychologists of British Columbia urged the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons to launch an investigation into Heilman's posting of the images Heilman told CTV News that "The psychological community is trying to exclude everybody outside their field from taking part in discussions related to what they do And personally, I think that's bad science" An extensive debate ensued on Wikipedia, and the images were kept

Textbook plagiarism

In 2012, Heilman noticed that the book Understanding and Management of Special Child in Pediatric Dentistry, published by Jaypee Brothers, contained a long passage about HIV that was plagiarized from Wikipedia's article on the subject This led to the book being withdrawn by the publisher In October 2014, when Heilman was reading a copy of the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses published by Oxford University Press, he noticed that the book's section on Ebola was very similar to the Wikipedia page on that subject Originally he suspected that a Wikipedia editor had copied from the textbook when writing the article However, he later noticed that the part of the Wikipedia article that resembled the part of the textbook had been written in 2006 and 2010, while the textbook had not been published until 2011 Christian Purdy, an Oxford University Press spokesperson, acknowledged that some of the text in the textbook had been copied but described it as an “inadvertent omission of an appropriate attribution" rather than plagiarism

Tenure on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

In June 2015, Heilman was elected to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees In December 2015, the Board removed Heilman from his position as a Trustee, a decision that generated controversy amongst members of the Wikipedia community A statement released by the board after Heilman was removed stated that he lacked the confidence of his fellow trustees Heilman himself later said that he "was given the option of resigning over the last few weeks As a community elected member I see my mandate as coming from the community which elected me and thus declined to do so I saw such a move as letting down those who elected me" Heilman subsequently pointed out that while on the Board, he had pushed for greater transparency regarding the Wikimedia Foundation's controversial Knowledge Engine project and its financing, and indicated that his attempts to make public the Knight Foundation grant for the engine had been a factor in his dismissal


In 2012, Heilman was one of two Wikimedia contributors sued by Internet Brands for shifting freely licensed content and volunteer editors from the for-profit site Wikitravel to the non-profit site Wikivoyage The Wikimedia Foundation defended Heilman's actions in the lawsuit, citing volunteer freedom of choice In February 2013 the parties settled their litigation In 2014, Heilman criticized a study which concluded that 9 out of 10 Wikipedia medical articles contained errors In 2015, the Atlantic ran a piece about conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia which detailed Heilman's efforts to counteract edits made by employees of Medtronic to the Wikipedia page for percutaneous vertebroplasty

Personal life

Heilman enjoys running ultramarathons and adventure racing, and he and his girlfriend ran the Gobi March in 2008 He has also run the Marathon des Sables, the Adventure Racing World Championships, and the Saskatchewan Marathon

Wikipedia-related publications

  • Cochrane and Wikipedia: The collaborative potential for a quantum leap in the dissemination and uptake of trusted evidence
  • Creating awareness for using a wiki to promote collaborative health professional education
  • Dengue fever: a Wikipedia clinical review
  • Open Access to a High-Quality, Impartial, Point-of-Care Medical Summary Would Save Lives: Why Does It Not Exist
  • Wikipedia: A key tool for global public health promotion
  • Wikipedia and Medicine: Quantifying Readership, Editors, and the Significance of Natural Language
  • Why we should all edit Wikipedia
  • Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia: Final-Year Medical Student Contributions to Wikipedia Articles for Academic Credit at One School
  • Medical journals and Wikipedia: a global health matter


  1. ^ a b Laidlaw, Katherine September 2013 "Is Google Making Us Sick" Reader's Digest Retrieved January 9, 2014 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Fleck, Fiona January 1, 2013 "Online encyclopedia provides free health info for all" PDF Bulletin of the World Health Organization World Health Organization 91 1: 8–9 doi:102471/BLT13030113 PMC 3537258 PMID 23397345 
  3. ^ a b Mcneil, Mark October 4, 2011 "Wikipedia makes a house call to Mac" The Spec Retrieved January 12, 2014 
  4. ^ a b Cohen, Noam 26 October 2014 "Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information" The New York Times Retrieved 26 October 2014 
  5. ^ Berko, Lex 2013 "Medical Students Can Now Earn Credit for Editing Wikipedia" Vice Retrieved January 12, 2014 
  6. ^ a b Stephens, Pippa 28 May 2014 "Trust your doctor, not Wikipedia, say scientists" BBC News Retrieved 9 December 2014 
  7. ^ Trujillo, Maria November 25, 2011 "Wikipedia and Higher Education – The Infinite Possibilities" University of British Columbia Retrieved January 9, 2014 
  8. ^ Bunim, Juliana "UCSF First US Medical School to Offer Credit For Wikipedia Articles" University of California, San Francisco Retrieved January 12, 2014 
  9. ^ Beck, Julie 5 March 2014 "Doctors' #1 Source for Healthcare Information: Wikipedia" The Atlantic Retrieved 1 August 2015 
  10. ^ a b Varnum, Gregory 5 June 2015 "Wikimedia Foundation Board election results are in" Wikimedia blog Retrieved 11 June 2015 
  11. ^ a b "Resolution:James Heilman Removal" Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees 28 December 2015 Retrieved 29 December 2015 
  12. ^ Kleinz, Torsten 29 December 2015 "Wikimedia Foundation feuert Vorstandsmitglied" Heise Online Retrieved 1 January 2016 
  13. ^ "James Heilman, MD, CCFP-EM" University of British Columbia Retrieved April 19, 2016 
  14. ^ a b McClurg, Lesley; Brooks, Jon 3 November 2016 "Should You Use Wikipedia for Medical Information" KQED Retrieved 4 November 2016  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  15. ^ a b c "Board of Trustees" Wikimedia Foundation Retrieved 20 August 2015 
  16. ^ a b c White, Patrick July 29, 2009 "Rorschach and Wikipedia: The battle of the inkblots" The Globe and Mail Retrieved January 12, 2014 
  17. ^ Beck, Julie 7 May 2014 "Can Wikipedia Ever Be a Definitive Medical Text" The Atlantic Retrieved 30 March 2015 
  18. ^ Murray, Terry 27 January 2015 "WikiProject Medicine Making Progress" CMAJ Retrieved 30 January 2015 
  19. ^ a b c d e f Pinsker, Joe 11 August 2015 "The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia—for Pay" The Atlantic Retrieved 11 August 2015 
  20. ^ Heilman, JM; West, AG 4 March 2015 "Wikipedia and medicine: quantifying readership, editors, and the significance of natural language" Journal of medical Internet research 17 3: e62 doi:102196/jmir4069 PMC 4376174 PMID 25739399 
  21. ^ a b Cohen, Noam June 12, 2012 "Book That Plagiarized From Wikipedia Is Pulled From Market" New York Times Retrieved January 14, 2014 
  22. ^ Teigen, Sarah October–November 2012 "Medical translations for minority languages" PDF Multilingual Retrieved January 12, 2014 – via TranslatorsWithoutBordersorg 
  23. ^ Yeung, Lien August 21, 2014 "Wikipedia's medical errors and one doctor's fight to correct them" CBC News 
  24. ^ Sankin, Aaron 1 October 2013 "Doctors prescribe better editors for Wikipedia—themselves" The Daily Dot Retrieved 6 April 2015 
  25. ^ Ritger, Clara 20 February 2014 "Wikipedia Is a Massively Popular Yet Untested Doctor" National Journal Retrieved 21 September 2014 
  26. ^ Reisz, Matthew 14 August 2014 "Wikimania: student medics get credit for webside manner" Times Higher Education Retrieved 12 January 2015 
  27. ^ "WHO - Ebola virus disease" World Health Organization 
  28. ^ "Ebola Ebola virus disease" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
  29. ^ Judd, Amy 14 November 2014 "BC doctor part of team editing popular Wikipedia page on Ebola" Global News Retrieved 7 February 2015 
  30. ^ Sluizer, Jan 3 December 2014 "Medical Students Learn to Treat Ailing Wikipedia Entries" Voice of America Retrieved 19 April 2015 
  31. ^ a b "Keeping the facts straight" Cranbrook Daily Townsman 20 November 2014 Retrieved 13 August 2015 
  32. ^ "Moose Jaw Doctor won't back down" mjtimesskca Retrieved September 1, 2015 
  33. ^ Sample, Ian July 29, 2009 "Testing times for Wikipedia after doctor posts secrets of the Rorschach inkblots" The Guardian Retrieved January 12, 2014 
  34. ^ a b "Sask MD's Wikipedia posting of ink blots angers psychologists" CBC News July 31, 2009 Retrieved January 9, 2014 
  35. ^ a b Cohen, Noam July 28, 2009 "A Rorschach Cheat Sheet on Wikipedia" The New York Times Retrieved January 9, 2014 
  36. ^ "Psychologists see red over inkblot test posting" CTV News 31 July 2009 Retrieved 22 August 2015 
  37. ^ Cohen, Noam August 23, 2009 "Complaint Over Doctor Who Posted Inkblot Test" New York Times Retrieved January 10, 2014 
  38. ^ Canadian Press 3 September 2009 "BC College calls for Rorschach action" The Globe and Mail Retrieved 30 November 2014 
  39. ^ "Mangalore professor in plagiarism row" New Indian Express 11 November 2013 Retrieved 21 August 2015 
  40. ^ " Announcement about changes to the Board" wikimediaorg Retrieved January 7, 2016 
  41. ^ Lih, Andrew 15 January 2016 "Wikipedia just turned 15 years old Will it survive 15 more" The Washington Post Retrieved 16 January 2016 
  42. ^ Orlowski, Andrew 12 January 2016 "Wikimedia Foundation bins community-elected trustee" The Register Retrieved 27 January 2016 
  43. ^ Noisette, Thierry "Crise à la fondation Wikimedia : sa directrice démissionne" Nouvel Observateur 
  44. ^ Koebler, Jason 15 February 2016 "The Secret Search Engine Tearing Wikipedia Apart" Vice Retrieved 29 February 2016 
  45. ^ Cohen, Noam September 9, 2012 "Travel Site Built on Wiki Ethos Now Bedevils Its Owner" New York Times Retrieved January 10, 2014 
  46. ^ Morris, Kevin September 6, 2012 "Wikimedia announces travel site, launches countersuit against competitor" The Daily Dot Retrieved January 10, 2014 
  47. ^ Musil, Steven February 17, 2013 "Wikimedia, Internet Brands settle Wikivoyage lawsuits" CNET Retrieved January 20, 2014 
  48. ^ Chatterjee, Anwesh, Cooke, Robin MT, Furst, Ian, Heilman, James 23 June 2014 "Is Wikipedia's medical content really 90% wrong" Cochrane Collaboration Retrieved 9 December 2014  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  49. ^ O'Meara, Dina 24 April 2006 "Mind over mountain" Western Standard Archived from the original on 2 April 2015 Retrieved 20 March 2015 
  50. ^ "Surviving the Gobi march" Moose Jaw Times-Herald 4 July 2008 Retrieved 20 March 2015 
  51. ^ "28th Annual Saskatchewan Marathon" Saskatoon StarPhoenix 29 May 2006 Retrieved 22 August 2015 
  52. ^ Mathew, Manu; Joseph, Anna; Heilman, James; Tharyan, Prathap October 22, 2013 "Cochrane and Wikipedia: The collaborative potential for a quantum leap in the dissemination and uptake of trusted evidence" Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 10: ED000069 doi:101002/14651858ED000069 PMID 24475488 
  53. ^ Heilman, James 2012 "Creating awareness for using a wiki to promote collaborative health professional education" International Journal of User-Driven Healthcare 2 1: 86–7 doi:104018/ijudh2012010113 
  54. ^ Heilman, James M October 2014 "Dengue fever: a Wikipedia clinical review" Open Medicine 8 3: 105–115 
  55. ^ Heilman, J August 2015 "Open Access to a High-Quality, Impartial, Point-of-Care Medical Summary Would Save Lives: Why Does It Not Exist" PLoS Medicine 12 8: e1001868 doi:101371/journalpmed1001868 PMC 4549298 PMID 26305335 
  56. ^ Heilman, James M; Kemmann, Eckhard; Bonert, Michael; Chatterjee, Anwesh; et al January 31, 2011 "Wikipedia: A key tool for global public health promotion" Journal of Medical Internet Research 13 1: e14 doi:102196/jmir1589 PMC 3221335 PMID 21282098 
  57. ^ Heilman, James M; West, Andrew G 4 March 2015 "Wikipedia and Medicine: Quantifying Readership, Editors, and the Significance of Natural Language" Journal of Medical Internet Research 17 3: e62 doi:102196/jmir4069 PMC 4376174 PMID 25739399 
  58. ^ Heilman, James September 2011 "Why we should all edit Wikipedia" PDF University of British Columbia Medical Journal 3 1: 32–3 Retrieved December 29, 2015 
  59. ^ Azzam, A; Bresler, D; Leon, A; Maggio, L; Whitaker, E; Heilman, J; Orlowitz, J; Swisher, V; Rasberry, L; Otoide, K; Trotter, F; Ross, W; McCue, JD 13 September 2016 "Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia: Final-Year Medical Student Contributions to Wikipedia Articles for Academic Credit at One School" Academic Medicine doi:101097/ACM0000000000001381 PMID 27627633 
  60. ^ Masukume, G; Kipersztok, L; Das, D; Shafee, TM; Laurent, MR; Heilman, JM November 2016 "Medical journals and Wikipedia: a global health matter" The Lancet Global Health 4 11: e791 doi:101016/S2214-109X1630254-6 PMID 27765289 
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