Citing Wikipedia

Our students frequently cite Wikipedia as a research source, but a recent post from Gloria Bobbie casts doubt on the validity of such a citation.

The key to validating material is the critique of the author. Unless the author can be identified and plagiarism checked (perhaps all submitted material should automatically be scanned and someone found submitting plagiarized material could be banned from ever posting) it will never be acceptable as a reference source. It is fine for preliminary research to get information about a topic, but when my students cite a source, I want them to give credit to the author of the material and be able to tell me why they accept the author’s views as credible. So, for the time being, I’m afraid my students, both graduate and undergrad will have to leave both Wikipedia and Britannica in the info gathering list and avoid them in their reference lists.

Thank you for directing my consciousness to this point. Upon reflection, it seems critical to good research practice and information consumption. The distinction between research and information gathering is also important. Bobbie encourages students to use Wikipedia to gather preliminary information on a topic but then turn to sources from verifiable authors for actual research.

Related posts: An Actual Study on Accuracy in Wikipedia, Learning Wikipedia

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