How Do I Use Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a free, web-based encyclopedia project. Articles are written and edited collaboratively by anyone who creates an account with Wikipedia.
Encyclopedia articles, whether in online or print format, are good starting points for researching topics that are new to you. Wikipedia can help you:
For university-level writing, it is generally not acceptable to cite information from an encyclopedia article as a major source for your paper.
Remember, it is up to you to evaluate the information that you find. For tips on how to do this, see UC Berkeley Library's "Finding Information on the Internet."
- Gain a broad overview of a new topic and identify a specific focus for your research
- Identify experts who have studied and written about your topic
- Generate search terms used to locate full text articles in online databases
- Explore related concepts and terms through hyperlinks to expand or refine your topic
- Identify online or print sources for further research
Tips from Wikipedia
- Wikipedia and Academic Use
- "An encyclopedia is great for getting a general understanding of a subject before you dive into it. But then you do have to dive into your subject using books and articles and other appropriate sources…"
- Research Tips from Wikipedia
- Use multiple, unique sources to support your research
- Locate and skim or read through the article references to confirm that they actually support the Wikipedia entry
- Using Wikipedia as a Research Tool
- Any Wikipedia article may contain false, biased, or debatable information
- Individual articles vary in quality and accuracy
- Wikipedia’s discussion and history pages can be informative, especially for entries on contentious topics
- Information should be verified with outside sources
- Wikipedia’s General Disclaimer
- "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here."
- "None of the contributors, sponsors, administrators, or anyone else connected with Wikipedia in any way whatsoever can be responsible for the appearance of any inaccurate or libelous information or for your use of the information contained in or linked from these web pages."
Articles and Resources for Discussion
- Brock, R. (2007). Middlebury College history department limits students’ use of Wikipedia. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(24), p. A.39.
- Cohen, N. (2007, February 21). A history department bans citing Wikipedia as a research source. New York Times.
- Cohen, N. (2007, March 12). After false claim, Wikipedia to check degrees. New York Times, p. C.8.
- Dee, J. (2007, July 1). All the news that’s fit to print out. New York Times Magazine, p. 34.
- Hafner, K. (2007, August 19). Dusting Wikipedia for fingerprints. Seattle Times, p. A.7.
- Lakhani, K. R., & Mcafee, A. P. (2007). Wikipedia: Case study. Harvard Business School. Retrieved September 7, 2007 from http://courseware.hbs.edu/public/cases/wikipedia
- Manjoo, F. (2009). Where Wikipedia ends. Time, 174(12), 50-51.
- Paumgarten, N. (2006). Dirty wikitricks. The New Yorker, 82(24).
- Schiff, S. (2006). Know it all: Annals of information. The New Yorker, 82(2). [Note: see article by Cohen, N. above for information on Wikipedia editor, Essjay]
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