By: Ezekiel Choffel
This week’s featured resource is Wikipedia. Of all of the web resources available to students, Wikipedia is one of the most controversial. As we discussed briefly last time, Wikipedia is not a currently considered credible source.
In its inception Wikipedia began as an encyclopedic resources that could be modified by “anyone”, and was thus deemed unusable as an academic resource. Today, the editors of Wikipedia are struggling against this stigma and are trying to present Wikipedia as a reliable resource with up to date information.
The editing team at Wikipedia has spent the last few years working to change the reputation of the website. While it is true, “anyone” can make changes to Wikipedia, these changes are now subject to a team of editors who do background research to check the validity of the changes made.
With that said, Wikipedia remains a great resource from preliminary research and often provides insight to the cultural importance of a research topic, by providing timelines of events and multiple locations of coverage depending on what topic you are researching. For example, when I researched Keynesian economics, Wikipedia not only provided the basics of understanding the theories involved, but also supplied examples of which countries follow the Keynesian approach. While I couldn’t cite Wikipedia as a primary source, I would definitely use Wikipedia as a secondary source in this case.
Personally, whenever I have to write a research paper, the first place I start is Wikipedia. Through a quick look through any Wikipedia article a reader can gather basic facts on just about any topic. With these facts gathered, it then becomes easier to plot your research around the basic understandings found from Wikipedia.
When used in conjunction, as a secondary resource, with scholarly material, Wikipedia can often speed up the research process on pretty much any research topic, which as a student can be an invaluable resource.