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Learn to Research

Q: Wait! I thought using Wikipedia was not allowed! But you’re saying I can use it?

A: Wikipedia is perfectly fine for checking background information on unfamiliar topics. Ultimately, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Like a print encyclopedia, it can provide a general overview of a given topic. Similarly, it is not appropriate for a thorough exploration which you are expected to incorporate at the college level.


Q: Isn’t it possible for anyone to edit Wikipedia?

A: Although “anyone can edit” Wikipedia articles, changes are monitored and editors are expected to cite facts with reliable sources. Edits made without a reference from a reliable source are removed. Bear in mind that edits and citations are reviewed faster on some articles than others,

some articles have restricted editing (see Donald Trump),

 

 

 

while others have been noted as ‘Good’ (see Edmonton)

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You also have the ability to see discussion about edits (under the Talk & View History tabs).

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Find out more about how Wikipedia works:


Q: So, it’s okay to use Wikipedia?

Sure. But only as a starting point and with an understanding of its strengths and weaknesses (see the links below). You must go beyond Wikipedia to make informed decisions in your personal and professional life. Important decisions like who to vote for or how to guide a client should not be based on Wikipedia articles. Future clients and colleagues (especially bosses) will expect you to be aware of and use appropriate sources from your field.


Anyone, anywhere in the world can edit Wikipedia. This is what makes it great. This is also why your instructor may not want you to use it as a source.