This study is about the use of Wikipedia by research scholars (registered atsix different Indian colleges) during their doctoral program. Most of therespondents selected used Wikipedia for the collection of material neededfor research,than they used other information resources, such as referencebooks and search engines.
Computer Science, Commerce and Management research scholarsused Wikipedia more for research than respondents in otherdomains. The findings suggest Wikipedia is used along with othersources of information by the researchers.
IntroductionWikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is one of the mostused among researchers today. But at the same timescholars raise some doubts about thereliability, completeness, accuracy of Wikipedia andwhether research scholars should, or should not, use itfor academic research. Not much information is availableabout the use of Wikipedia during the research processby an academic research scholar.
In this paper, I present findings from a survey of Indian researchScholars in tamilnadu located on six academic campuses during theacademic year 2010-2011.
This study investigated the use of Wikipedia for research in fiverelated areas:1. The frequency of use of Wikipedia by research scholars.2. The motivation for using Wikipedia for research purposes.3. Stages at which research scholars use Wikipedia.4. Wikipedia Vs other sources of information.5. Type of scholars more likely to use Wikipedia.
MethodsThe study about Wikipedia usage among research scholars wasconducted during 2010 and 2011. The study was conducted with10 research students’ sample groups on six campuses in Indiabetween June and August 2010.On an average, each session was60 minutes long.
The research scholar sample groups were provided with aquestionnaire containing questions about the research scholars’research habits, experience, and the limitations that they mighthave faced during the research process.
In total, 100 students participated in the session. More females (74percent) than males participated in the sample groups. Theparticipants age group was between 24 to 34 years old. ResearchScholars were full–time, part-time from government, aided, self-financing colleges and universities, who had completed at leastone year at their institution. The sample consisted primarily ofresearch scholars in variety of domains.
The selected sample research scholars were likely to use secondarydata collection for research. The questionnaire was distributed to1512 research scholars on six campuses in India between April andMay 2010. The study sample was 151 responses. The overallresponse rate was ten percent.
A questionnaire containing 30 items were also made availableonline, using survey software provided through the Green ValleyResearch Foundation. The purpose of the questionnaire was tocollect data about the different sources research scholars may usewhile collecting data or materials for their research.
Major findings from this study are as follows:1. Majority of research scholars were found using Wikipedia.Wikipedia was used in combination with other informationresources at the earlier stages of the research.2. Wikipedia helped research scholars with a summary of a topic,meaning of terms, and also it offered a usable interface for theresearch scholars.3. Respondents who were likely to use secondary data collectiontend to use Wikipedia more than respondents who depend onprimary data collection.
Importance of WikipediaResearch scholars use Wikipedia for a number of reasons.Wikipedia is a clear source of valuable information for collectingresearch related materials. As one research scholar in our sessionsremarked, “Wikipedia projects a true picture of the information Ineed.”
Respondents for this study answered that they used Wikipediabecause it:(1) helped them at the earlier stages of research in gettingacquainted with the topic. (86 percent);(2)Some respondents reflected that Wikipedia is an easy to useinterface (79 percent); and,(3)Some others expressed that it helped them to find the meaningof difficult terms in certain topics (77 percent).
Majority of the respondents (70 percent) where of the opinion thatthey were using Wikipedia at the earlier stages of their research.(see Figure 2).It is found that only very few research scholars werein the habit of using Wikipedia near or at the end of their researchprocess. (two percent).
ConclusionThis study was conducted to find the role of Wikipedia in researchand also to study the use of Wikipedia when compared to othersources of information by research scholars.
Findings:1. Research scholars tend to use Wikipedia for collecting materialsin the beginning stages of research.2. Research scholars use Wikipedia, along with other informationsources.3. In our study, we find that the information provided in Wikipediais as dependable as any other source of information available inthe internet.4. Research Scholars use Wikipedia fully understanding itslimitations as a quick reference source.
Future Scope of the StudyThis study will help Researchers, educators, and informationresource vendors. At times research scholars will be in urgent needof materials which are essential for the completion of theirresearch. Time being the factor this is a very critical period. Thefinding of this study shows that research scholars depend not onlyon one source for materials but more than one source consideringdependency of the facts as a criterion.
About the authorDr.Subramonian Principal Dr.R.V.Arts and Science CollegeKaramadai Coimbatore 641104 Tamilnadu India Dean – ResearchIndian Programs University of Azteca, Mexico.Guinness World Record Holder Online TeachingNational Record Holder in Continuous Teaching for 61 hrs 35 mts.E–mail: dean [at] greenvalley [dot] edu [dot ]inWeb site is located at http://www[dot]greenvalley [dot] edu[dot]in