Wikipedia: To use or not to use in your scholarly research?
To use or not to use in your scholarly
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-
“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
(American Heritage Dictionary)
How does Wikipedia work?
• Anyone with internet access can edit
• No requirement to join
• No requirement to identify yourself
• Some topics are more regulated than others
Why Wikipedia is not a good source
for scholarly research…
• Real time edits
• Anonymous and open to ANYONE with internet
• Example: Lord Emsworth (prolific wikipedia
• 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
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
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.
Look for appropriate sources in the
works cited list:
Often times the
works cited list
formats that are
and citable than
Scholarly journal article
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
• Encyclopedia Britannica Online Off-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.
For more information:
Researching with Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 13 Nov. 2009. Web.
15 Nov. 2009
Young, Jeffrey R. Wikipedia Founder Discourages Academic
Use of His Creation. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12
June 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2009