Should Students Really Never Use Wikipedia?

What follows is a selection from my eBook single Teaching The Research Paper.

The Truth About Wikipedia

Most teachers have this notion that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and is therefore unreliable and full of made up facts. While it’s true that Wikipedia isn’t 100% accurate, the vast majority of the information on Wikipedia is as accurate, or more accurate, than the textbooks in your classroom.

When someone submits an entry or a change to an entry, it undergoes a strict review process by Wikipedia’s community of volunteer editors. See what happened when I, as an experiment, tried adding something that they deemed unreliable:

Warning #1

Warning #2

Warning #3

Warning #4

Within minutes of submission, my entry was flagged and removed because it lacked proper references and potentially violated copyright. After re-submitting my entry several times, it continued to get flagged, as did my account which was threatened with suspension for not abiding by Wikipedia’s stringent protocol.

Use Wikipedia Responsibly

Instead of putting a blanket ban on Wikipedia, teach your students how to use Wikipedia responsibly.

Since every fact entered into Wikipedia requires a proper citation, Wikipedia is a great place to find sources. If your students find something on Wikipedia, have them chase the reference to the original source.

In this way, teaching the research paper offers a valuable opportunity to teach your students to validate information. The image below features Wikipedia entry with an in-text citation and its corresponding reference.

Use Wikipedia Responsibly


Teaching the Research Paper

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