Open main menu

Wikimedia press releases/Louisiana State University

DRAFT - must be send out by Wednesday, February 7 in the morning EST. Questions from Louisiana State University Newspaper.


Do you think wikipedia is a legit source for students to use in school work?

Wikipedia is a great resource for students to get a good overview of a topic, but it should not be cited in papers or exams since it is not an authoritative source. Wikipedia is a great place to start your research, but it shouldn't be used as the final word.

There are several reasons for this. First, it is usually not advisable at the university level to cite an encyclopedia. Second, because Wikipedia is a "wiki", articles are never complete and can be edited by nearly anyone with access to the web. It is a continuous working draft copy; there is no guarantee an article is 100% correct at any time. We always recommend that students check statements of fact from Wikipedia against other sources when it is important.

Under some circumstances (e.g. research about Wikipedia itself or encyclopedias in general) it can be appropriate to cite Wikipedia. We are providing a special citation tool that allows referencing a specific version of a Wikipedia article in standard citation formats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_Wikipedia and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Cite


Why shouldn't students use encyclopedias as sources?

There are several reasons why individuals shouldn't cite an encyclopedia at the university level. However, I would recommend that you speak to an academic or scholar who could give you a much more comprehensive and detailed answer than the one I can give.

Please note that encyclopedias are usually considered to be a "tertiary source" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_source)


What are the benefits of using Wikipedia over other search systems?

All search systems have their place and reason for being, so I would rather concentrate on Wikipedia's benefits instead of contrasting it with other systems.

As I mentioned, Wikipedia provides students with a global view of a topic. It also provides students with links to reliable sources to further their research - such as links to scholarly journals and newspaper articles, which are listed in the citations. Since it's web-based, students can access these reliables sources rather quickly, as well as discover topics and information that are closely related to their search.

Wikipedia's strengths are 1. it is very broad in coverage; 2. it tends to be very up-to-date.


Do you think that one day wikipedia could become a reliable source for students to cite in papers?

I think that at the university level it is usually not advisable to cite an encyclopedia. It is generally good research practice to cite a primary source or a serious secondary source. I doubt that at the university level it will ever become acceptable to cite an encyclopedia for when conducting scholarly research.

However, Wikipedia editors are monitoring the appearance of Wikipedia citations in scientific papers, books and legal documents. As fas as we can tell, there is an increase in the number of citations of Wikipedia content. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_as_a_court_source and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_as_an_academic_source)

See also: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi


Claire, I would I also like to mention

Wikipedia is a project made by the community for the community, individuals are encouraged to help improve Wikipedia and change any errors they see on the site. Essentially, that is what Wikipedia is all about - empowering every single human being with the ability to share in the sum of all knowledge.