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Wikipedia: To use or not to use in your scholarly research?

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  • 1. Wikipedia:
    To use or not to use in your scholarly research?
  • 2. What is Wikipedia?
    wi·ki   (wĭk'ē)    n.   pl.
    “A collaborative website whose content can be edited by anyone who has access to it.”
    (American Heritage Dictionary)
    en⋅cy⋅clo⋅pe⋅di⋅a  [en-sahy-kluh-pee-dee-uh]
    “noun. a book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.”
    (American Heritage Dictionary)
  • 3. How does Wikipedia work?
    Anyone with internet access can edit Wikipedia articles
    No requirement to join
    No requirement to identify yourself
    Some topics are more regulated than others
  • 4. Why Wikipedia is not a good source for scholarly research…
    Real time edits
    Anonymous and open to ANYONE with internet access
    Example: Lord Emsworth (prolific wikipedia editor)
    Fact checked?… take your chances “Dubious statements tend to be removed over time, but they may have a long life before they are removed.” (Researching with Wikipedia)
    Example: John Seigenthaler Sr. case and the Kennedy assassinations
  • 5. What Wikipedia says about itself as a research tool:
    “Though many casual inquiries will be satisfied merely by referring to Wikipedia, you will learn more by accessing the print and online resources we reference. We encourage you to verify our content by using independent sources” (Researching with Wikipedia)
    “Newer articles more frequently contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism.” (Researching with Wikipedia)
  • 6. How to use Wikipedia:
    Wikipedia is full of good and bad information. The best way to use Wikipedia is to read the article, get a sense of the topic at hand, and then proceed to the references at the bottom of the article.
    You can click on the “References” link in the table of contents to go straight to the list of cited works.
  • 7. Look for appropriate sources in the works cited list:
    Scholarly journal article
    Often times the works cited list will include relevant books, articles, presentations, and other information formats that are more reliable and citable than the Wikipedia article itself.
    Magazine article
  • 8. Library online reference sources:
    Biography and Genealogy Master Index Index to over 13.6 million biographical sketches on noteworthy individuals, both historical and contemporary.
    Biography Resource Center
Provides access to full-text articles from hundreds of periodicals, as well as tens of thousands of images and links to hand-picked web sites.
    CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
86th Edition now available; contains interactive charts and tables.
    Encyclopedia Britannica OnlineOff-campus access.
    Gale Virtual Reference Library
is a database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7.
    Heritage Quest Online
A genealogical database with access to census data, family records and local histories. Off-campus access.
    Oxford English Dictionary [OED]
It is available from off campus, ask the reference librarian for the password (it is not your library card).
    Points of View Reference Center
A full text database designed to provide students and schools with a series of controversial essays that present multiple sides of a current issue.
    RAND California
A comprehensive online source of statistical information on California business, economic & public policy issues. Will generate graphs on request.
    Reference USA
This is a good tool to see what businesses are in your area, and get information on them.
  • 9. For more information:
    Works Cited
    Researching with Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 13 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia>.
    Young, Jeffrey R. Wikipedia Founder Discourages Academic Use of His Creation. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 June 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2009 <http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Wikipedia-Founder-Discourages/2305>.