Is Wikipedia A Good Source Of Information?

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One of the top ten most visited websites in the world with general information on different topics, trusted by many but also criticised by lots of people. Wikipedia is a resourceful website with thousands of articles, a site that would likely appear among the top 5 results when you search for something on search engines like Google or Bing.

The problem with Wikipedia articles is anyone can publish and edit articles. Registered users publish articles and anyone can make changes to it if you agree to abide by their terms and conditions and cite the source of the information before approval. Some information contains small numbered links with square brackets that looks like this [1], they contained the source of the information. If the information provided does not contain citation, Wikipedia will place this after the information [citation needed]. So the big question is, is Wikipedia a good source of information?

Wikipedia is a starting point for most students doing research on a certain topic, however, citation of Wikipedia in research papers may be considered unacceptable by many universities and colleges, because Wikipedia is not considered a credible or authoritative source. It’s an encyclopedia, a resource, a summary of knowledge.

Here are few tips that you need to consider before taking information from the site:

Research properly and wisely. Remember encyclopedias are starting points for research, not an ending point.

In any case, you should not cite Wikipedia itself, but the source provided, you should certainly look up the source yourself before citing it. If there is no source cited, consider a different method of obtaining this information. The source of Wikipedia articles are found at the bottom of each article.


Use your own judgment. Remember that all sources have to be evaluated.

Before you cite a website try to know whether the site is run by a respected individual or institution, or if you have verified the information from other reliable sources, if not, it is probably a bad idea to cite it.

If a book is in your school, college or university library or published by a reputable university press, or if an article is in a standard academic journal, that means that several professors at some point have considered the information and considered it worthy to publish. And also remember not everything on the internet is accurate.

It’s also important to review the Edit and View History tab at the top of each article. The Edit tab will give you information on when it was edited and who edited it. The View History tab will show you the different versions of the article and the date of each version.


Final Tips

  • Wikipedia should not be used as your only source of information.
  • It is a good place for background information.
  • You can use it to create a list of phrases, organisations, people, dates and related terms.
  • Use these terms when searching for information on your topic.
  • Look at the reference and external link sections at the end of the Wikipedia articles for sources you can cite in your research.

To know more about how to use Wikipedia articles visit this page

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