Adding MR links to Wikipedia pages

Wikipedia requires references for statements made in their entries.  If you say something and don’t support it with a citation, it will be flagged.  So you can usually count on a Wikipedia page to have ample references at the end.  Did you know that Wikipedia has a built-in feature that makes it easy to add MR links to the references on a Wikipedia page?  In this post, I give an example using the Wikipedia page on Lie groups.

Start by going to the Wikipedia page.  (The image below is a link to the page.)

Wikipedia - Lie group

The beginning of the References section of the Lie group page looks like this:

Screen Shot Wikipedia - references

You can see that the second reference has an “MR number”, but the first does not.  At the end of the bibliographic information for Borel’s book, you see MR 1847105 and the icon for an external link.  The “MR” is a link to the Wikipedia page for Mathematical Reviews.  The “1847105” is a link to the entry for Borel’s book in MathSciNet.  So how does that get in there?  Here comes the messy bit.

If you click [edit] just after the word “References” at the bottom of the Wikipedia page, a window opens up with a bunch of code in it.  Wikipedia uses a basic markup language similar to Markdown or HTML.  They have a page explaining it.  They provide information specific to referencing here.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, neither of the Wikipedia resources explains how to insert the MR number.  Moreover, their citation helper (RefToolbar) doesn’t include this feature, even in the extended version.  But fortunately,  staring at the page gives you a good idea of the syntax being used.  Here is the coding for the first two references

==References==
* {{citation|authorlink=John Frank Adams|first=John Frank|last= Adams|title=Lectures on Lie Groups|series=Chicago Lectures in Mathematics|isbn= 0-226-00527-5|year=1969|publisher=Univ. of Chicago Press|location=Chicago}}.
*{{Citation | last1=Borel | first1=Armand | author1-link=Armand Borel | title=Essays in the history of Lie groups and algebraic groups | url=http://books.google.com/books?isbn=0821802887 | publisher=[[American Mathematical Society]] | location=Providence, R.I. | series=History of Mathematics | isbn=978-0-8218-0288-5 | mr=1847105 | year=2001 | volume=21}}

If you stare really hard, you will see that the second reference has a piece with “mr=….” in it.  In fact, it has “mr=1847105”.  There is nothing similar in the first reference.  So let’s add it!

We pop over to MathSciNet and search for the book by Adams.  Here is what that looks like:

Screen Shot Wikipedia - MR adams j - search

Note that I was lazy and just put in his first initial (with the wildcard operator) and I only put in enough of the title to give me what I hope will be either a unique result or at least a short list.

Screen Shot Wikipedia - MR adams j - results

Not bad – two matches.  One is the book I want and the other is the Russian translation of the book.  The full MR number is at the beginning of the listing.  I have highlighted it in blue here.

Screen Shot Wikipedia - MR adams j - MR nbr

Wikipedia, however, only wants the seven digits that come after the MR.  So I go back to the code in the Wikipedia page I am editing and add this piece of information.  The syntax is that each field is separated by a vertical bar “|”.   Moreover, Wikipedia allows you to insert the field wherever you want in the code for this reference – their system will format it and place it correctly.  So let’s insert the “mr=0252560” into the referencing code by adding it right at the end:

==References==
* {{citation|authorlink=John Frank Adams|first=John Frank|last= Adams|title=Lectures on Lie Groups|series=Chicago Lectures in Mathematics|isbn= 0-226-00527-5|year=1969|publisher=Univ. of Chicago Press|location=Chicago | mr=0252560}}.
*{{Citation | last1=Borel | first1=Armand | author1-link=Armand Borel | title=Essays in the history of Lie groups and algebraic groups | url=http://books.google.com/books?isbn=0821802887 | publisher=[[American Mathematical Society]] | location=Providence, R.I. | series=History of Mathematics | isbn=978-0-8218-0288-5 | mr=1847105 | year=2001 | volume=21}}

So, what does it look like on Wikipedia?  Here it is:

Screen Shot Wikipedia - MR adams added

Ta dah!  We have added an MR number to a Wikipedia reference!

I like it that Wikipedia thinks highly of MathSciNet references, to the point that they make it straightforward to add them.  It would be even better if it was an option in their RefToolbar.  I am not holding my breath, though.  Sadly, only a tiny fraction of pages on Wikipedia have mathematical citations.

Update (2015.10.07): Wikipedia has some instructions on how to format citations.  For journals, the help page is here.  For books, the help page is here. These pages give you a list of all the acceptable fields (parameters) that you can use in a citation.   Also, they use the parameter “cite”, where I have used “citation”.  Both seem to work.

About Edward Dunne

I am the Executive Editor of Mathematical Reviews. Previously, I was an editor for the AMS Book Program for 17 years. Before working for the AMS, I had an academic career working at Rice University, Oxford University, and Oklahoma State University. In 1990-91, I worked for Springer-Verlag in Heidelberg. My Ph.D. is from Harvard. I received a world-class liberal arts education as an undergraduate at Santa Clara University.
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