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Wikidata 101

Published onAug 20, 2023
Wikidata 101

In Wikidata, a statement is the atomic unit of data, rendered in the RDF triple format (Wikipedia contributors, 2022).

An RDF triple is an atomic unit of data (W3C, 2014); in Wikidata these are referred to as statements or claims. Image: (Dearborn, 2023)

Additionally, every Wikidata entity receives a unique identifier beginning with the prefix Q for items and P for properties. A persistent URL may be obtained for any item by appending the unique ID (such as Q11575 or P8724 ) to the Wikidata namespace:

An RDF triple rendered in Wikidata as a statement: Entity (Q) - Property (P) - Entity (Q), connected with resolvable URIs. Image: (Dearborn, 2023)

Statements may also include qualifiers that expand the meaning beyond a simple property-value pair and “further specify the application of a property, to constrain the validity of the value, or to give additional details about the value.”

Qualifiers further clarify a Wikidata statement about Carl Linnaeus (Q1043), Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist (1707–1778), and his membership as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Image: Wikidata Q1043

Below is the anatomy of a Wikidata item and the general terminology associated with a Wikidata Q record.

A graphic representation of the data model used for items. Image: Wikimedia UX Designer, Charlie Kritschmar

It is important to note that Wikidata statements are not facts, they are claims. These claims can be added by Wikimedians with zero to many references to further substantiate the claim. BHL Staff should be invested in curating statement references to make Wikidata more authoritative. For an in-depth overview of the Wikidata data model, consult the primer.

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