Wikipedia is a great tool for a summary of a topic. Wikipedia content is constantly revised, and entries vary in quality. Some of the content is excellent, some is very questionable.
Many educators frown on the use of Wikipedia. Why?
- Wikipedia content is not necessarily written by subject experts, and may be inadequate or incorrect.
- Articles in Wikipedia may be changed or deleted between viewings.
- For research papers, you need authoritative resources, so it is absolutely necessary to consult other sources.
- Anyone can search Google or find a Wikipedia article. To demonstrate academic skill, it is important to go beyond these basic tools.
How can you use Wikipedia in a way that benefits your research process?
- Scan the article to get general information and terms you can use as keywords for further searching.
- Scan the article for references. Sometimes these can lead you to excellent books or articles that you can find at the TNCC Library or in other area libraries.
- Don't reference Wikipedia articles in your paper, unless you are pointing out something specific to Wikipedia.
- As you read Wikipedia articles, you may read notations that call for more evidence, or call attention to bias. These are very constructive principles that apply to your own work. What if Wikipedia editors read your work? Would they mark areas for revision?
For more information, see Researching With Wikipedia.