Barring Citation of Wikipedia

According to Inside Higher Ed Middlebury College has barred citing Wikipedia in academic works, referring to the frequent problem of inaccurate or incomplete entries. However, this raises a serious issue: academics are supposed to cite any reference or work they used to develop their own publications. Anything less is dishonest!

I would never advocate Wikipedia as a single source of information, but it's a good source to get started on the search for more information. While some entries are controversial, for the most part the information there is a decent summary and a long list of additional references to go explore. If a student used this as a starting point, it deserves credit in a paper!

The academics have their heart in the right place, though:

He [Don Wyatt] stressed that the objection of the department to Wikipedia wasn’t its online nature, but its unedited nature, and he said students need to be taught to go for quality information, not just convenience.

While people shouldn't solely go to any encyclopedia for their information for academic writing, places like wikipedia are often a better source for discovering the underlying controversies present in a particular subject area, or disagreements amongst sources or experts. That sort of information in invaluable in research, and should be cited if used to direct one's study.

Josh Poulson

Posted Friday, Jan 26 2007 09:24 AM

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