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Is Wikipedia a credible source for academic work?

rutgersmammarutgersmamma Registered User Posts: 493 Member
edited December 2009 in Parent Cafe
Do 'old school' (or new school, for that matter) profs allow students to cite Wiki sources in academic papers? Our high school's English department is split on the topic--some teachers accept Wiki as a source while others do not. Can't imagine some of my very old school English or history professors accepting it as a reliable academic source for research papers. Middlebury's history department took a stand against it in 2007, but things like this ebb and flow.....

News: A Stand Against Wikipedia - Inside Higher Ed
Post edited by rutgersmamma on

Replies to: Is Wikipedia a credible source for academic work?

  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,640 Senior Member
    Nice article. Good starting point to get ideas, but quality of entries does vary. For HS students an article with a good bibliography may work- but the teacher would have to check the Wikipedia references to be sure. We're still in the early phases of computer usage as so much is still evolving. The taming of the "wild west" of the internet has begun but still has a long ways to go. Check back in another 10 years...
  • xAAAxxAAAx Registered User Posts: 1,465 Senior Member
    Wikipedia does have some great information for students; when the topic is hard/impossible to find elsewhere, I'll use wiki as a source. Plus, you can find an article on almost anything, from the Backstreet Boys to Chocolate Pudding
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,711 Senior Member
    I have always thought it was not generally accepted as a source. I know where my daughter was in HS it was not. I think anyone can put whatever they want on wikepedia. I would use it as a place to maybe direct me to a more dependable site that could be cited as a source.

    My son was talking about some old Beatles song a few weeks ago and I told him it was not a Beatles song. Sure enough it was not but when he had googled it some site said it was a Beatles song. I think it may have been wikepedia, but could not swear to it.
  • kitty56kitty56 Registered User Posts: 1,310 Senior Member
    My H is a college professor and specifies in his syllabus and on the first day of class that he will NOT accept wikipedia as a source. Part of it is that he wants them to do more research than wikipedia. The other is what swimcats mom said - that anyone can put anything on it.
  • maritemarite Registered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    Not accepted or acceptable as a source, but a good starting point for further research. Quality of entries vary enormously.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    If I'm researching something, I often start with wikipedia, then use their bibliography noted at the bottom of an entry, as a starting point for resources I can cite.
  • mom2threemom2three Registered User Posts: 810 Member
    exactly - any good info on wiki will be sourced, and those sources can be used IF the student goes to those sources and finds the info.
    Wiki IS a good starting point, but in my hs classes, not an acceptable source.
  • laxmomlaxmom Registered User Posts: 1,449 Senior Member
    I was not permitted to use Wikipedia as a source when working on research projects this year.
  • anothermom2anothermom2 Registered User Posts: 1,753 Senior Member
    When my D was in middle school the teachers there said no use of wikipedia as a source (current HS as well). As posters noted above, check footnotes for other references that may or may not be useful. The articles are open to user editing, so many people view them as lacking for research. I don't think that teachers generally like even references to articles in print encyclopedias either - books, print articles, magazines, journals, even other types of websites may be good sources as a very general matter.
  • LergnomLergnom Registered User Posts: 7,926 Senior Member
    Considering that students in college have access to all sorts of databases, there is no excuse for citing wikipedia. Even high school students often have access to lots of journals, etc. online. Reliability of the source is one thing - and I've found wiki articles to be decent introductions but not at all complete (and sometimes they're barely sensible). Not doing actual work is another. Using wikipedia as a source is not doing work.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,200 Senior Member
    Most of my math professors seem to be fine with Wikipedia. I have even had two math professors hand out copies of Wikipedia articles as lecture outlines for exotic topics. (I would not be surprised if they had written those articles themselves!)

    Though math seems to be different from many other field in the sense that new results quickly turn into "common knowledge" which can be used without reference.
  • garlandgarland Registered User Posts: 15,192 Senior Member
    I do not allow it as a source. I do acknowledge it's often accurate (though not always), but no matter what, it's an encyclopedia, a tertiary source. Not good enough. I do encourage use of the article's sources as a starting point.
  • maritemarite Registered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    Re post 12, the NYT published an article last week about a math problem that was solved collaboratively through a wikipedia-style blog. Mathematicians do check Wolfram's Mathworld a lot, I'm told.

    I've seen some Wikipedia entries in my own field of knowledge that were really accurate and complete and a lot of others that weren't.
    One big beef I have with wikipedia is that the sources are not always cited.
  • jbuscjbusc Registered User Posts: 2,252 Senior Member
    Formally, no. Encyclopedias aren't really appropriate, including wikipedia.

    Informally, yes. Particularly for technical topics, wikipedia is a great reference for quickly looking up just about anything.

    The "anyone can write whatever they want" argument is weak. Nearly anyone can write anything they want anyway, whether it's on wikipedia or not. Unless you are taking care to only use reputable, peer-reviewed sources, then wikipedia is not particularly worse than any other source.
  • NaturallyNaturally Registered User Posts: 1,308 Senior Member
    Depends on the individual teacher. Some accept it, others don't.

    Even when teacher's don't accept it, it can be useful . . . It lists all its sources at the bottom of the articles, so you can track the info back to its original sources (which are usually pretty reliable, IMO.)
This discussion has been closed.