PLEASE NOTE that this article needs further editing to bring it into line with the Psychology Wiki
It should still give you an idea of the way forward however.
Psychology Wiki articles are varied in nature: some are comprehensive from the beginning, but most begin as stubs - ideally growing up into well-written, comprehensive articles.
This page details the different stages in an article's life, and lists the various ways you can help articles grow into the next stage. Note that skipping stages is allowed — in fact, it's a very good thing if you can accomplish this! Also, there is no hard line in-between stages, except for good articles & featured articles. The following categories should help you get an idea of how articles typically grow on the Psychology Wiki.
Stages of an articleEdit
Every article starts with an idea in the mind of a contributor. You should create articles about whatever you are interested in, so long as they belong in the Psychology Wiki. If you see a red link that strikes your fancy, create an article! For more suggestions on how to think of subjects to contribute on, see Psychology Wiki:Contributing to Psychology Wiki.
Before you begin, it's helpful to read the guidelines and tutorials on creating new articles to get an idea of what you should consider (article scope, format, references, NPOV, etc.)
Good ways to find articles to create:
If you do not have the time to write a full article, consider writing a "stub" after reading how to create the perfect stub article.
Stubs are very short articles, generally of one paragraph or less. These are the "ugly ducklings" of the Psychology Wiki. With effort, they can grow into swans, of course.
Good ways to find and grow stubs:
Once a stub has some real content, it's a real article. The vast majority of articles fall into this category. They may have mistakes, but you are encouraged to copyedit and correct them.
Good ways to find and improve developing articles:
About 0.1% of Wikipedia articles are featured articles, which have been thoroughly reviewed and designated as the very best of Wikipedia. However, there are also many articles containing excellent content but which are unlikely at present to become featured - generally, because while they nominally meet FA standards they are very short or they have potential to be a FA but are not ready for the process. So long as they meet certain quality standards, they may be listed as good articles.
To meet the good article criteria, in short, articles should be well written, stable, accurate, referenced, use a neutral point of view, and wherever possible, be illustrated by appropriately tagged images. Good articles may not be as thorough and detailed as our featured articles, but should not omit any major facets of the topic.
What constitutes a featured article
Good ways to find and further improve good articles:
After thorough peer review, with lots of people working together to smooth out the rough edges, a good article can become great. You'll know a great article when you see it. It's steadily approaching perfection. Polish it up as best you can, maybe give it another round in peer review, then submit it as a featured article candidate.
The featured articles are what we believe to be the best articles in Wikipedia. Prior to being granted featured status, articles are reviewed at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria.
Once the article is certified as feature-quality, it can usually be featured on the main page. Just be patient, and the article will eventually get its turn. The day before the article is scheduled to appear on the main page, give it a last once-over, polishing it wherever you find anything.
Note: occasionally, some articles are feature-quality but cannot be featured on the main page for various reasons. For example, if an article is about a subject that would offend a significant number of readers, it will probably not be listed on the main page.
What constitutes a featured article
How to get great articles up to featured-quality:
Featured articles are well-polished, but there are almost always small improvements that can be made. Don't ever be afraid to correct mistakes when you see them; no article is perfect, though perfection will always remain our goal.
Without a doubt, though, our featured articles are excellent, so why not show them off? There are a number of ways you can showcase our best work to people who might not know about Wikipedia. This is an excellent way to recruit new Wikipedians and gain donations, both of which help Wikipedia immensely.
Good ways to showcase our best articles:
How to develop an articleEdit
Suppose you want to create a first-rate, or even a perfect Wikipedia article that deserves to be listed among our featured articles (those considered by consensus to be Wikipedia's best articles). Your goal is then to meet the featured article criteria. Here's a guide to achieving this.
Once you have decided on a topic, use Wikipedia's search engine to find out what related material we already have. That way, you discover what already exists and can later create good links to and from other relevant articles.
Unless you are an acknowledged expert on the topic, additional research is necessary to write a great article. A great article has to be verifiable and cite reliable sources which ideally should include books or peer reviewed journal articles. Consider visiting a university or public library to identify and study the best sources. Consider searching Wikipedias in other languages, looking at what search engines such as Google can bring up, and reading the relevant articles from other encyclopedias, to form an idea of what topics should be covered, in what depth, to achieve a comprehensive summary coverage. The following sites may help you: Encyclopedia.com (free), AllRefer Reference (free), Factmonster, Encyclopaedia Britannica School & Library Site (free in most libraries).
Finding relevant articlesEdit
There are several ways to find and retrieve articles online, without having to leave home. Google Scholar  is an excellent source for finding sometimes free online peer reviewed articles; note that the free articles' entries are quickly identifiable for having a "View as HTML" link in the result page.
Many libraries have agreements with database providers under which library users with current library cards can connect for free to the databases from their home computers — that is, the users do not need to be physically present in the library. Check with your local public or academic library to find out which databases it subscribes to, and whether they have a mechanism in place for remote access. Some high-end databases (like InfoTrac and ProQuest) even carry scanned versions of articles as they were originally printed.
Examples of comprehensive general interest databases that may be available through your local library are:
- EBSCO - Full academic version (Academic Search Premier) has full text of millions of articles from over 4,600 sources. Full public library version (MasterFILE Premier) has full text coverage of about 2,100 sources.
- Infotrac - OneFile database has full text of about 50 million articles from 1980 to the present. Widely available at academic and public libraries throughout North America. Operated by Thomson Gale (formerly Gale Group), a subsidiary of the Thomson Corporation.
- JSTOR - Has full text of articles from several hundred scholarly journals from their beginning to approximately five years ago. Operated by a consortium of universities. They include most of the "high prestige" journals in the humanities and social sciences.
- LexisNexis - Full version (available only to lawyers and journalists) has millions of full-text articles (from magazines, journals, and newspapers), court opinions, statutes, treatises, transcripts, public records, and more. Academic version (available at many universities) offers large subsets of the legal and news databases.
- ProQuest - Full version (ProQuest 5000) has full text of millions of articles from 7,400 sources as far back as 1971. The ProQuest Historical Newspapers database has images in PDF format of all issues of the New York Times published between 1851 and 2001. Most libraries offer access to only part of the huge ProQuest database, through account types like eLibrary, Platinum, Silver, Gold, or Discovery.
- Questia Online Library allows full-text search and reading access to all 64,000+ books and 1,000,000+ journal, magazine, and newspaper articles in their collection. Their strength is full text of recent academic books by major publishers such as Oxford University Press, University of North Carolina Press, and Greenwood Press, along with thousands of older academic books that are available only in larger university libraries. Unlike most other online services they offer short-term individual subscriptions for students and researchers.
Academic libraries often subscribe to special interest databases with in-depth coverage, of which there are far too many to list here.
Finding relevant booksEdit
If you are doing in-depth research on a complex or controversial subject, you should obtain relevant books in addition to articles. If the subject is of historical interest, you may have to visit a library to obtain articles that were published prior to 1980, since few online databases contain such old articles.
To find books or periodicals stored as bound volumes, the best place to start is with the catalog of your local public library. If you have searched the catalogs of several local libraries without success, try searching library "union" catalogs. With one search in a union catalog, it is possible to determine what books are available on a subject in an entire county, state, province, or country. The largest union catalog is OCLC WorldCat, which claims to have worldwide coverage, though most of its member libraries are in North America.
Only by citing the best sources in a field can a Wikipedia article be taken seriously by its critics. For more on this issue, see Wikipedia:Verifiability.
If you are creating a brand-new article (see m:Help:Starting a new page), there are a couple of naming conventions that you should follow.
Start your article with a concise lead section or introduction defining the topic at hand and mentioning the most important points. The reader should be able to get a good overview by only reading the lead, which should be between one and four paragraphs long, depending on the length of the article. See Wikipedia:Lead section.
Remember that, although you will be familiar with the subject you are writing about, readers of Wikipedia may not be, so it is important to establish the context of your article's subject early on. For instance, if you are writing an article about a sports event you should mention the sport and, if relevant, any national details: rather than
The Red Cup was a domestic league competition that ran between 1994 and 1996
it would be more helpful to write
The Red Cup was a domestic rugby league competition in New Caledonia that ran between 1994 and 1996
again, rather than
Billy Fish is a goalkeeper who joined the club in 2006
Billy Fish is a goalkeeper who joined Fulchester United in 2006
Then start the article properly. See our editing help for the format we use to produce links, emphasize text, lists, headlines etc. Make sure to link to other relevant Wikipedia articles. Also, where appropriate, add links in other articles back to your article.
You cannot simply copy-and-paste from one of the external resources mentioned above. See Copyrights for the details.
It's often a good idea to separate the major sections of your articles with section headlines.
For many topics, a history section is very appropriate, outlining how thinking about the concept evolved over time.
If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the Neutral point of view.
Try to get your spelling right. Wikipedia does not yet contain a spell checker, but you can write and spell-check your article first in a word processor or text editor (which is a lot more comfortable than the Wikipedia text-box anyway) and then paste it into said text-box. Another option is an extension (such as ieSpell for Internet Explorer or SpellBound for Mozilla and Firefox) that can be installed on your web browser and used as a spell checker in text boxes.
Keep the article in an encyclopaedic style: add etymology or provenance (when available), look for analogies and eventual comparisons to propose. Be objective: avoid personal comments (or turn them into general statements, but only when they coincide), don't use personal forms (I found that...). The Wikipedia Manual of Style can help you with your English. You can post questions about English grammar and usage at the Wikipedia language and grammar desk.
Try to avoid using euphemisms, such as "passed away" for "died", or "made love" for "had sex".
At the end, you should list the references you used and the best available external links about the topic. These references are what will allow Wikipedia to be the most trusted, reliable resource it can be.
Finishing touches Edit
Finish the article with a good relevant image or graphic. See Graphics tutorials for practical help on drawing diagrams and modifying images. Many copyright-free image sources are listed at our public domain image resources. Please do not link to images on other servers; instead use the upload page.
One way to get a good article is to bounce it back and forth between several Wikipedians. Use the Talk pages to refine the topic, ask for their confirmations, note their doubts: it is usually interesting to discover that, perhaps from the other side of the planet, after a while, some other contributors can check other sources, or propose different interpretations. The composition of a commonly agreed interpretation is the most important ingredient of a serious Wikipedia article.
It may also be useful to look up your subject in one of the foreign-language Wikipedias, such as the German or French editions. While the English-language Wikipedia is the biggest one in terms of the total number of articles it contains, you may find that other Wikipedias sometimes contain more in-depth articles, especially if the subject is of local importance. Even if your foreign language skills are not particularly developed, you may still glean important information from those articles, like birth dates, statistics, bibliographies, or the names of persons that are linked on the page. If you have incorporated the additional information, please also make the appropriate Interwiki links at the end of your article.
Don't neglect the External links and References sections. The most useful and accurate material you've found with your Internet research might make good links for a reader too. And sometimes there is a standard work that is mentioned over and over in connection with your topic. Mention it, with its author and publication date. Even better, obtain a copy and use it to check the material in the article.