Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Source?

Last year a colleague in the English department described a conversation in which a friend revealed a dirty little secret: “I use Wikipedia all the time for my research—but I certainly wouldn’t cite it.”  This got me wondering: How many humanities and social sciences researchers are discussing, using, and citing Wikipedia?  To find out, I searched Project Muse and JSTOR, leading electronic journal collections for the humanities and social sciences, for the term “wikipedia,” which picked up both references to Wikipedia and citations of the wikipedia URL.  I retrieved 167 results from between 2002 and 2008, all but 8 of which came from Project Muse.  (JSTOR covers more journals and a wider range of disciplines but does not provide access to issues published in the last 3-5 years.)  In contrast, Project Muse lists 149 results in a search for “Encyclopedia Britannica” between 2002 and 2008, and JSTOR lists 3.  I found that citations of Wikipedia have been increasing steadily: from 1 in 2002 (not surprisingly, by Yochai Benkler) to 17 in 2005 to 56 in 2007. So far Wikipedia has been cited 52 times in 2008, and it’s only August.

Along with the increasing number of citations, another indicator that Wikipedia may be gaining respectability is its citation by well-known scholars.  Indeed, several scholars both cite Wikipedia and are themselves subjects of Wikipedia entries, including Gayatri Spivak, Yochai Benkler, Hal Varian, Henry Jenkins, Jerome McGann, Lawrence Buell, and Donna Haraway.

111 of the sources (66.5%) are what I call “straight citations”—citations of Wikipedia without commentary about it–while 56 (34.5%) comment on Wikipedia as a source, either positively or negatively.  14.5% of the total citations come from literary studies, 14% from cultural studies, 11.4% from history, and 6.6% from law. Researchers cite Wikipedia on a diversity of topics, ranging from the military-industrial complex to horror films to Bush’s second state of the union speech.  8 use Wikipedia simply as a source for images (such as an advertisement for Yummy Mummy cereal or a diagram of the architecture of the Internet).  Many employ Wikipedia either as a source for information about contemporary culture or as a reflection of contemporary cultural opinion.  For instance, to illustrate how novels such as The Scarlet Letter and Uncle Tom’s Cabin have been sanctified as “Great American Novels,” Lawrence Buell cites the Wikipedia entry on “Great American Novel”(Buell).

About a third of the articles I looked at discuss the significance of Wikipedia itself.  14 (8%) criticize using it in research.  For instance, a reviewer of a biography about Robert E. Lee tsks-tsks:

The only curiosities are several references to Wikipedia for information that could (and should) have been easily obtained elsewhere (battle casualties, for example). Hopefully this does not portend a trend toward normalizing this unreliable source, the very thing Pryor decries in others’ work. (Margolies).

In contrast, 11 (6.6%) cite Wikipedia as a model for participatory culture.  For example:

The rise of the net offers a solution to the major impediment in the growth and complexification of the gift economy, that network of relationships where people come together to pursue public values. Wikipedia is one example.(DiZerega)

A few (1.8%) cite Wikipedia self-consciously, aware of its limitations but asserting its relevance for their particular project:

Citing Wikipedia is always dicey, but it is possible to cite a specific version of an entry. Start with the link here, because cybervandals have deleted the list on at least one occasion. For a reputable “permanent version” of “Alternative press (U.S. political right)” see: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alternative_press_%28U.S._political_right%29&oldid=107090129 (Berlet).

Of course, just because more researchers—including some prominent ones—are citing Wikipedia does not mean it’s necessarily a valid source for academic papers.  However, you can begin to see academic norms shifting as more scholars find useful information in Wikipedia and begin to cite it.  As Christine Borgman notes, “Scholarly documents achieve trustworthiness through a social process to assure readers that the document satisfies the quality norms of the field” (Borgman 84).  As a possible sign of academic norms changing in some disciplines, several journals, particularly those focused on contemporary culture, include 3 or more articles that reference Wikipedia: Advertising and Society Review (7 citations), American Quarterly (3 citations), College Literature (3 citations), Computer Music Journal (5 citations), Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (3 citations), Leonardo (8 citations), Library Trends (5 citations), Mediterranean Quarterly (3 citations), and Technology and Culture (3 citations).

So can Wikipedia be a reputable scholarly resource?  I typically see four main criticisms of Wikipedia:

1) Research projects shouldn’t rely upon encyclopedias. Even Jimmy Wales, (co?-)founder of Wikipedia, acknowledges “I still would say that an encyclopedia is just not the kind of thing you would reference as a source in an academic paper. Particularly not an encyclopedia that could change instantly and not have a final vetting process” (Young).  But an encyclopedia can be a valid starting point for research.  Indeed, The Craft of Research, a classic guide to research, advises that researchers consult reference works such as encyclopedias to gain general knowledge about a topic and discover related works (80).  Wikipedia covers topics often left out of traditional reference works, such as contemporary culture and technology.  Most if not all of the works I looked at used Wikipedia to offer a particular piece of background information, not as a foundation for their argument.

2) Since Wikipedia is constantly undergoing revisions, it is too unstable to cite; what you read and verified today might be gone tomorrow–or even in an hour.  True, but Wikipedia is developing the ability for a particular version of an entry to be vetted by experts and then frozen, so researchers could cite an authoritative, unchanging version (Young).  As the above citation from Berlet indicates, you can already provide a link to a specific version of an article.

3) You can’t trust Wikipedia because anyone—including folks with no expertise, strong biases, or malicious (or silly) intent—can contribute to it anonymously.  Yes, but through the back and forth between “passionate amateurs,” experts, and Wikipedia guardians protecting against vandals, good stuff often emerges. As Nicholson Baker, who has himself edited Wikipedia articles on topics such as the Brooklyn Heights and the painter Emma Fordyce MacRae, notes in a delightful essay about Wikipedia, “Wikipedia was the point of convergence for the self-taught and the expensively educated. The cranks had to consort with the mainstreamers and hash it all out” (Baker).  As Roy Rosenzweig found in a detailed analysis of Wikipedia’s appropriateness for historical research, the quality of the collaboratively-produced Wikipedia entries can be uneven: certain topics are covered in greater detail than others, and the writing can have the choppy, flat quality of something composed by committee.  But Rosenzweig also concluded that Wikipedia compares favorably with Encarta and Encyclopedia Britannica for accuracy and coverage.

4) Wikipedia entries lack authority because there’s no peer review. Well, depends on how you define “peer review.”  Granted, Wikipedia articles aren’t reviewed by two or three (typically anonymous) experts in the field, so they may lack the scholarly authority of an article published in an academic journal.  However, articles in Wikipedia can be reviewed and corrected by the entire community, including experts, knowledgeable amateurs, and others devoted to Wikipedia’s mission to develop, collect and disseminate educational content (as well as by vandals and fools, I’ll acknowledge).  Wikipedia entries aim to achieve what Wikipedians call “verifiability”; the article about Barack Obama, for instance, has as many footnotes as a law review article–171 at last count (August 31), including several from this week.

Now I’m certainly not saying that Wikipedia is always a good source for an academic work–there is some dreck in it, as in other sources.  Ultimately, I think Wikipedia’s appropriateness as an academic source depends on what is being cited and for what purpose.   Alan Liu offers students a sensible set of guidelines for the appropriate use of Wikipedia, noting that it, like other encyclopedias, can be a good starting point, but that it is “currently an uneven resource” and always in flux.  Instead of condemning Wikipedia outright, professors should help students develop what Henry Jenkins calls “new media literacies.”  By examining the history and discussion pages associated with each article, for instance, students can gain insight into how knowledge is created and how to evaluate a source.  As John Seely Brown and Richard Adler write:

The openness of Wikipedia is instructive in another way: by clicking on tabs that appear on every page, a user can easily review the history of any article as well as contributors’ ongoing discussion of and sometimes fierce debates around its content, which offer useful insights into the practices and standards of the community that is responsible for creating that entry in Wikipedia. (In some cases, Wikipedia articles start with initial contributions by passionate amateurs, followed by contributions from professional scholars/researchers who weigh in on the “final” versions. Here is where the contested part of the material becomes most usefully evident.) In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading—almost a new form of literacy—that invites the reader to join in the consideration of what information is reliable and/or important.(Brown & Adler)

OK, maybe Wikipedia can be a legitimate source for student research papers–and furnish a way to teach research skills.  But should it be cited in scholarly publications?  In “A Note on Wikipedia as a Scholarly Source of Record,” part of the preface to Mechanisms, Matt Kirschenbaum offers a compelling explanation of why he cited Wikipedia, particularly when discussing technical documentation:

Information technology is among the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia, given the high interest of such topics Wikipedia’s readership and the consequent scrutiny they tend to attract.   Moreover, the ability to examine page histories on Wikipedia allows a user to recover the editorial record of a particular entry… Attention to these editorial histories can help users exercise sound judgment as to whether or not the information before them at any given moment is controversial, and I have availed myself of that functionality when deciding whether or not to rely on Wikipedia.(Kirschenbaum xvii)

With Wikipedia, as with other sources, scholars should use critical judgment in analyzing its reliability and appropriateness for citation.  If scholars carefully evaluate a Wikipedia article’s accuracy, I don’t think there should be any shame in citing it.

For more information, review the Zotero report detailing all of the works citing Wikipedia, or take a look at a spreadsheet of basic bibliographic information. I’d be happy to share my bibliographic data with anyone who is interested.

Works Cited

Baker, Nicholson. “The Charms of Wikipedia.” The New York Review of Books 55.4 (2008). 30 Aug 2008 <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21131&gt;.

Berlet, Chip. “The Write Stuff: U. S. Serial Print Culture from Conservatives out to Neonazis.” Library Trends 56.3 (2008): 570-600. 24 Aug 2008 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/library_trends/v056/56.3berlet.html&gt;.

Booth, Wayne C, and Colomb, Gregory G. The Craft of Research. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003.

Borgman, Christine L. Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, Mass., 2007.

Brown, John Seely, and Richard P. Adler. “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0 .” EDUCAUSE Review 43.1 (2008): 16-32. 29 Aug 2008 <http://connect.educause.edu/Library/EDUCAUSE+Review/MindsonFireOpenEducationt/45823?time=1220007552&gt;.

Buell, Lawrence. “The Unkillable Dream of the Great American Novel: Moby-Dick as Test Case.” American Literary History 20.1 (2008): 132-155. 24 Aug 2008 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_literary_history/v020/20.1buell.pdf&gt;.

Dee, Jonathan. “All the News That’s Fit to Print Out.” The New York Times 1 Jul 2007. 30 Aug 2008 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/magazine/01WIKIPEDIA-t.html&gt;.

DiZerega, Gus. “Civil Society, Philanthropy, and Institutions of Care.” The Good Society 15.1 (2006): 43-50. 24 Aug 2008 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/good_society/v015/15.1diZerega.html&gt;.

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies (Part One).” Confessions of an Aca/Fan 26 Jun 2007. 30 Aug 2008 <http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab.html&gt;.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Mechanisms : new media and the forensic imagination. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008).

Liu, Alan. “Student Wikipedia Use Policy.” 1 Apr 2007. 30 Aug 2008 <http://www.english.ucsb.edu/faculty/ayliu/courses/wikipedia-policy.html&gt;.

Margolies, Daniel S. “Robert E. Lee: Heroic, But Not the Polio Vaccine.” Reviews in American History 35.3 (2007): 385-392. 25 Aug 2008 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/reviews_in_american_history/v035/35.3margolies.html&gt;.

Rosenzweig, Roy. “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past.” The Journal of American History Volume 93, Number 1 (June, 2006): 117-46.  Available at http://chnm.gmu.edu/resources/essays/d/42

Young, Jeffrey. “Wikipedia’s Co-Founder Wants to Make It More Useful to Academe.” Chronicle of Higher Education 13 Jun 2008. 28 Aug 2008 <http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i40/40a01801.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en&gt;.

About these ads

46 responses to “Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Source?

  1. I cited Wikipedia in several instances in Mechanisms. I included the following note in the book:

    “In several places Mechanisms references Wikipedia as a scholarly source of record, usually for some specific point of technical documentation. Information technology is among the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia, given the high interest of such topics among Wikiepdia’s readership and the consequent scrutiny they tend to attract. Moreover, the ability to examine Page Histories on Wikipedia allows a user to recover the editorial record of a particular entry, with every revision to the text date- and time-stamped and versioned. Attention to these editorial histories can aid in allowing users to exercise sound judgment as to whether or not the information before them at any given moment is controversial to its audience, and I have availed myself of that functionality when deciding whether or not to rely on Wikipedia.

    “Wikipedia itself, whose developers leverage their software’s content modeling to expose document histories with a precision, transparency, and granularity unprecedented in printed publications outside the realm of genetic editions and textual scholarship, is a working example of the mechanisms I discuss herein.”

    In additional to information technology, which I mention above, Wikipedia is also indispensable (and usually authoritative) on pop culture. Anyone working on the Sopranos or The Wire, for instance, would find a wealth of material not otherwise available, including exhaustive episode by episode plot guides.

  2. Yikes, I see you already found my Mechanisms note. ;-) Feel free to delete the comment as redundant. But I think the point about popular culture is likewise very important.

  3. Hey Matt,

    I thought your note on Wikipedia was really sharp, so hence its appearance in the post. (I seem to be mentioning you a lot lately, but you keep putting out good stuff…) Thanks for adding the bit about pop culture, another important point. Many of the Wikipedia citations I looked at were indeed about pop culture.

  4. Kirschenbaum states, “Information technology is among the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia, given the high interest of such topics among Wikiepdia’s readership and the consequent scrutiny they tend to attract.”

    To which I’d ask, which academic or scientific study proved this? This sounds very similar to a cult member assuring us that “his” cult isn’t really a cult because he’s in it, and he would NEVER join a cult, so it can’t possibly be a cult.

    One thing that most of these articles that explore the merits of Wikipedia often miss is the MAGNITUDE of libelous content that can (and does) often enter Wikipedia. You simply would never see in Britannica that Alaska Senator Ted Stevens “participated in wild sex adventures in high school” (a claim that stood for over 135 hours on Wikipedia); indeed, that these sex adventures were “with donkeys” (a claim that lasted for 37 hours).

    The really sad thing is that the Wikimedia Foundation could clean this up with a snap of the fingers, by requiring real-name verification (such as Amazon does with credit card authorization) of all its editors, at least for those who edit on biographies of living persons. But they don’t enact these changes, because they know that the world’s largest defamation platform is an addictive, cult-like program, mainly BECAUSE it is fun to anonymously libel your adversaries there, OR to hunt and eliminate such libel.

    Wikipedia is a game, not an encyclopedia; and the sooner researchers discover that, the better off we’ll all be.

  5. Pingback: New Media « Archaetech

  6. Of course, Gregory Kohs is hardly an impartial observer, as he runs a business that “began as a service creating Wikipedia articles for paying corporations”.

  7. Pingback: Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Resource? « Open Education News

  8. Of course, Ben Brumfield is hardly a comprehensive researcher, as he fails to point out that MyWikiBiz accounts for less than 1/2 of one percent of Gregory Kohs’ income.

  9. Just a quick reply to Gregory K., but I’d reiterate the importance of Wikipedia’s Page History feature for use in evaluating the relative stability of the content for any given entry. More generally, I’m a firm believer in the “many eyes” principle: if you get the MOS chip number wrong in your contribution to the Atari 2600 page, you can bet that at least a half a dozen people who know the difference and why it matters will be along with an edit.

  10. Pingback: More on Wikipedia « Andrea’s Blog

  11. Connie Moon Sehat

    Lisa, thanks for the article. I was thinking that Encyclopaedia Britannica’s move to go wiki (http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/06/ency.html) has interesting implications for the respectability of Wikipedia: thoughts?

  12. Much-needed research! Wonderdul. I wonder whether Wikipedia is likely to be cited more often in books than in journal articles? Books tend to be broader, more general in scope, and are thus more likely to need to cite an encyclopedia-type article. 58 references doesn’t really seem that big a number, although the rate of increase is certainly interesting.

    I will say that I hate the ubiquitous language about whether to “cite” Wikipedia, which even you use, Lisa. My feeling is that whoever consults it should cite it, whether student or scholar. (With, of course, the rather large and fuzzy exception for general knowledge that doesn’t need to be cited.) What ought to be at issue is whether to consult Wikipedia. I always tell my students to do a “Works Consulted” list rather than a “Works Cited” list, partly for this reason. The bibliography, however named, should be an honest record of the sources that formed one’s thinking, provided so that the reader can 1) judge the authority of the sources and 2) retrieve the sources.

    As for Matt’s assertion that information is one of the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia, I’d agree that it’s unproven, though it is commonly believed. I don’t see any particular reason to doubt it, but it would make a good study. The “cult” analogy is both rude and rhetorically ineffective, and the sudden introduction of the issue of libelous content is irrelevant. Wikipedia can be and, I believe, is, both a repository for libel (however ephemeral) and for comprehensive and accurate information about information technology.

    I’d love to see some libelous comments about IT, though: “The Nintendo Wii is the bastard love child of the Apple Lisa and the red laser pointer! It’s true!”

  13. I meant to write “Matt’s assertion that information TECHNOLOGY is one of the most reliable content domains,” btw. Sorry.

  14. Pingback: Wikipédia devient-elle une source académique respectable? « {{référence nécessaire}}

  15. Maybe this is field dependent, but in history no encyclopedia is a “respectable academic source,” at least not to the degree that a historian would cite an encyclopedia in a peer-reviewed publication. A lot of us use encyclopedias as a starting point for research or for quick reference of basic facts (“When was that treaty signed again? Ah, here it is.”) These aren’t things one footnotes.

    I have personally found Wikipedia to a mixed blessing. Entries for non-controversial topics can be quite good. I send students in my western history courses to the entries for the Land Ordinances of 1785 and 1796.

    The entry for Robert E. Lee, on the other hand, moves back and forth between pro-southern apologia and something closer to a real historical description of the man. (Today I see that it is not too bad.) Entries for Alger Hiss and Leon Trotsky and similarly controversial figures are digital battle grounds. I would not send a student to those entries for the basic facts on Robert E. Lee, though I would send students to the history pages for the entries in a historiography or digital history course.

  16. Dear Lisa,

    That’s an interesting post, but I think your results are merely heuristics. Statistically, I see nothing relevant here

    1.
    Did you control for the total number of articles published every year?

    (Let n denote the number of references to Wikipedia and N denote the total number of articles published. If n(1999)=50 while N(1999)=1000 and n(2000)=1,000 while N(2000)=1,000,000, then the 100% increase you are seeing is a statistical artifact. I have no reason to think that N(Y)=C where C stays constant for all values of Y, hence, control.)

    2.
    My intuition is that N increases, though probably not threefold every year – hence the increase in n from 5 to 17 is real. Yet 5 to 17 is a small increase and you are not sampling the full universe of academic journals; I am pretty sure that any computation for a confidence interval will show there is nothing here.

  17. Thanks for all of the stimulating comments! To Gregory, I too would emphasize that researchers can check the history of revisions and exercise their critical judgment–nothing cultish about that. Although Matt’s claim that Wikipedia is strong on pop culture and information technology may be anecdotal, he’s an expert in this domain, so I trust his opinion. To Amanda, I’m also fascinated by the question of whether Wikipedia is cited more (or less) in books–I’d love to see research on that topic (but too exhausted to do it myself). I agree that researchers ideally should document what was consulted in producing a scholarly work, although often only works that were actually cited turn up in articles. Several articles did point to Wikipedia as a source for readers to learn more about a particular topic. To Larry, I agree that the “respectability” of citing Wikipedia varies by field; it seems to be cited most often in journals focused on contemporary culture and technology, such as Leonardo. To Connie, yes, it is interesting that Britannica is opening up to some extent to crowd sourcing, which seems to be an implicit recognition of the wisdom of crowds and the ways in which enabling participation fosters engagement–although some important distinctions between Britannica and Wikipedia remain, of course. To Yoois, I’ll readily admit that I’m not a statistician. I certainly don’t feel comfortable asserting that Wikipedia has become a *major* source for academics–167 citations is a small number, given that Project Muse provides full text access to about 400 humanities and social sciences journals. My purpose is not to sample all academic journals–I’m interested in citation practices in the social sciences and humanities, so Muse and JSTOR are entirely appropriate databases to use in conducting this research. But it does seem fair to say that citation of Wikipedia is increasing in humanities and social sciences journals (from 1 in 2002 to 56 in 2007), which could be an indicator that, at least in some fields, it is becoming a more legitimate source, or at least a source that researchers acknowledge and engage with,

  18. But it does seem fair to say that citation of Wikipedia is increasing in humanities and social sciences journals (from 1 in 2002 to 56 in 2007), which could be an indicator that, at least in some fields, it is becoming a more legitimate source, or at least a source that researchers acknowledge and engage with,

    I’m afraid there is sadly no such thing as ‘it does seem fair’ in statistical analysis! You have significant, not significant, period. Is your increase significant? If not controlled by the total number of citations, or the volume of publication, it’s impossible to tell…

  19. Pingback: Historia i Media | Amerykanów problemy z historią i Wikipedia w pracach naukowych (przegląd prasy)

  20. To t.: OK, sure, the data I’m presenting does not consider the total number of journal articles per year in the databases I examined. Unfortunately, that data was not readily available. It’s possible that the increase in citations I’m noting resulted from there being an increasing number of journal articles in Muse each year. About 1/4 of the citations came from journals that were added to Muse after 2003. However, I don’t think the increasing number of articles by year can completely account for the rising number of Wikipedia citations. My purpose here is to point out what seems to be a trend and raise questions; further research is necessary to verify the initial observations.

  21. Pingback: Digital Humanist » Wikipedia

  22. Pingback: weblog.histnet.ch » Blog Archive » Wikipedia zitieren: darf man nun oder darf man nicht?

  23. Lisa: t and I were making the same point. I agree more research would be useful. I believe the three most reliable observations you could make at the moment are:

    1. Wikipedia does get cited.
    2. In extremely minor proportions.
    3. And the trend does not seem to decrease.
    (4. End of uncontrolled statements)

  24. Yools,

    Yes, I more or less agree with that summary. Not to be legalistic, but it depends on how you define “extremely minor proportions.” I think we’d need to see how Wikipedia citation compares to the citation of other reference sources. It is interesting that Wikipedia appears to be cited slightly more frequently than Britannica across the same pool of data (Project Muse/JSTOR). Given how notions of trustworthiness in academia are in part driven by the prestige of those associated with certain sources, it’s also interesting that well-known academics are citing or discussing Wikipedia. In raw numbers, citation of Wikipedia seems to be increasing, but further investigation is necessary to see if there is an increasing *percentage* of citations across all of the articles in the social sciences/humanities databases I examined.

    I should also say that I don’t want to hype or overstate the citation of Wikipedia. Frankly, I was surprised to find it mentioned in even 50 academic articles, so I felt like my results, preliminary as they are, are worth sharing. I hope they’ll prompt further discussion and investigation.

  25. Pingback: Wikipedia As Evidentiary Support « Advocate’s Studio

  26. Pingback: links for 2008-09-14 - schorleblog

  27. Pingback: kairologie » Wikipedia als Quelle?

  28. This notion that “good” researchers will “check the history of revisions” is laughable. Sorry, but if you came upon this Wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ted_Stevens&oldid=170850508

    …I doubt that more than 3% of average readers, or more than 10% of respectable researchers would “check the history of revisions” before judging whether the article served their informational purposes or not. And even if they did check the history, they’d see the most recent edit summary indicated that “revert vandalism (rvv)” just took place. So, they may think that the article is BETTER than it actually is.

    Sorry, your arguments about the value and reliability of Wikipedia just don’t hold water with me. Read about the personal history of Taner Akcam and Wikipedia before you get back to me, please.

  29. Pingback: Things Noted « Digital Clio

  30. Pingback: Wikipedia y mundo académico: el rayo que no cesa « Clionauta: Blog de Historia

  31. Thanks, Lisa. This is really interesting. I’d like my students to read it, but I don’t think they need any more encouragement to consult Wikipedia! I sometimes use it myself to get some overview of topics tangential to the main area of study. I think it’s as good and reliable as going for a coffee and a chat with an expert in the field, who is likely to be partial and fallible anyway. But when I’m trying to encourage my young charges (hey, I don’t normally patronise them this much, I promise!) to become meticulous researchers engaging with the nuances of primary sources, I don’t want them to fall into the trap of easy summaries. Sifting through the material for your own connections and inferences is an invaluable part of the process of research.

    I know you weren’t suggesting to the contrary. I just thought I’d log my musings…

  32. Good point, Dan. I certainly don’t want to minimize the importance (and joy!) of doing original research. In many cases, researchers cited Wikipedia to point out a convenient, openly accessible source for the equivalent of coffee chat–e.g., if you want to know more about, say, the metaphor of “Turtles all the way down,” see Wikipedia.

  33. Pingback: New Jersey » heasulli’s daily diigo bookmarks 09/24/2008

  34. Pingback: lauren’s library blog » shifting gears: talking about the future of libraries

  35. Very interesting post, Lisa, and thank you for the citation analysis. I’ve been curious about the same thing. On the main issue, however, I disagree.

    “Few experienced researchers trust Wikipedia, so under no circumstances cite it as a source of evidence (unless your topic is the Wikipedia itself)” (Craft of Research, 3rd edition, p. 37).

    I think it is important to distinguish between the utility of Wikipedia as a research tool and its citability as a source. Once we have done the work of critically evaluating a particular article, we are in a position to spare our readers the trouble.

    More here:

    http://secondlanguage.blogspot.com/2008/12/citing-wikipedia-ie-why-not-to.html

  36. Pingback: The Validity of Wikipedia - Volconvo Debate Forums

  37. In my opinion, no. While it certainly has some great articles, that actually have great information, most of the articles are bias in one way or another, and it takes forever to fix them. And when somebody tries to fix anything, edit wars start and it usually ends up with you on the discussion page getting told your “missing” something.

    Or your not “understanding” a point.

    I can tell you right now that the bias on wikipedia, whether it be political bias, other bias, or anything else, is what’s killing it. That’s why people don’t allow you to use it in school. My own friend used it for research and ended up getting an F because of it.

    Wikipedia is a great idea, but it’s been completely destroyed by bias and inaccuracies.

  38. Pingback: The Writer's Pulse » Writing » Using Wikipedia as a resource

  39. Pingback: 4 wise ways to wield Wikipedia « Mimi’s New Media Blog

  40. Pingback: Gretamewing’s Blog

  41. Pingback: 2009 Horizon Report Australia-New Zealand Edition » Two to Three Years: Open Content

  42. Pingback: Claire Gordon: The Truth According to Wikipedia | ClipsNewsNetwork

  43. Am I the only one disappointed that Wikipedia wasn’t cited as a reference for this article?

  44. Pingback: Wikipedia | NHS Technology Assisted Learning

  45. Pingback: New Media | archaeoinaction.info

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s