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Evaluating Sources: Wikipedia

How to determine which sources to use for accurate, professor-approved information.

Can you use Wikipedia for research?

Yes! Wikipedia is not a peer-reviewed article and you shouldn't rely on it as a source to cite in your paper, but you can use it as an encyclopedia to guide you.

Use Wikipedia for:

  • Introducing or reviewing concepts, especially if you're unfamiliar with the subject
  • Learning more about a topic so you might be able to select a focus for research
  • Discovering current information about a topic
  • Finding possible sources

Hints for Using Wikipedia

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research with the Cooperative Library Instruction Project

Wikipedia Tips

Wikipedia can be edited by multiple sources, but it is NOT a peer-reviewed source.
Studies have shown it to be mostly accurate, but since people can edit pages as they see fit, the information may not always be correct.
The user-editing does mean that someone can post a view or fact that they judge to be relevant.
Most professors (and librarians) frown upon using Wikipedia as a source.
Wikipedia does list citations or references for information, but not all are accurate, objective, current, or authoritative.
Wikipedia is most helpful when used as a quick overview or list of possible sources by clicking on its citations.

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