Steve Walker

Some less or more well-organised thoughts

The best reason for university students not to cite Wikipedia

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Yesterday, I listened to a podcast from Radio 3’s ‘Free Thinking’ festival. Jimmy Wales was talking about Wikipedia. A member of the audience asked when Wales thought that Wikipedia would be accepted as an appropriate reference for (in the question) a first year undergraduate paper. I was astonished to hear his answer, which from memory was something like: ‘Wikipedia won’t become a source. If I’d cited the Encyclopedia Britannica as an undergraduate I’d have been laughed at. Encyclopedias are good for helping you orient yourself to a new topic, not provide the last word.’ Which is, I suspect, exactly how a lot of academics use it –  as the first word on an unfamiliar subject, but certainly not the last.

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Written by Steve

August 10, 2012 at 8:24 am

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