December 13, 2011

The academic use of Wikipedia

I've not just been told once that Wikipedia has no use in academia - especially as a reference in your doctoral thesis.

To some extent I think that this is true; Wikipedia is un-regulated. Anyone can be the 'expert' so you shouldn't take as gospel what is published here just as you wouldn't reference your taxi driver no matter how knowledgeable he seems to be.

But there is a large amount of information on Wikipedia and as long as you can substantiate the claims made with another source, then I think the content can build your background knowledge in your research area and give you other avenues to explore that you may not have come across otherwise.

If more academics and real 'experts' add to the Wikipedia content then there will be more sound information available - especially if links and citations are made to corroborating evidence.

Don't reference it in your thesis though - you'll just look daft.

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