Is Wikipedia an acceptable source for research papers, etc?

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Do you think Wikipedia is an acceptable source?

Yes
24
48%
No
26
52%
 
Total votes: 50

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warriorness
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Is Wikipedia an acceptable source for research papers, etc?

Postby warriorness » Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:59 pm UTC

I think it's fine to use Wikipedia as a research source, but only if you recognize the inherent fact that it can be edited with false information.

So whenever I get information from Wikipedia I always do one of two things to ensure its credibility: 1) Check the same article again a week or so later, to make sure that the information is still present (those mods are fast, even with stuff that looks like it might be true; I know this from personal experience), or 2) Check the cited sources (and possibly even use those as a citation instead).

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Postby hermaj » Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:07 pm UTC

I cite it for definitions, sometimes, because I find it goes into a little more depth, and I definitely use it to develop general understanding and direction in my topic, but I try and use textbooks and journal articles and things in proper assignments. I'm anal about having a variety of sources though. Librarian mother. :P

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Postby zvezdogled » Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:01 pm UTC

i think that Wikipedia is quite acceptable. Maybe what i miss is some sort of conformation in the sense of who wrote that stuff and references.

I use wiki for definitions and basics. Wiki is usually where i start my research.

PS.
Our professors don't accept wiki as reference. It has to be a name (human).
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Postby jestingrabbit » Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:59 pm UTC

I sometimes compare wikipedia with the Guiness book of records.

The Guiness book of records came about as a way to settle arguments in bars. The internet has become the modern communal space where things are discussed and arguments occur. It needed a dispute resolver and it got wikipedia. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? No. Would I reference it in a piece of work for an employer or course of education? No (and I'd answer all these the same for the Guiness book of records). Would I reference it for arguments on the internet? Yes and I do.

Digression: I find it interesting that there is a tendency to argue in both bars and on the internet. On the internet, there is no facial expression to communicate your emotions (emoticons don't count :cry:) and this disinhibits you from continuing to argue with really pissed off people. In bars, everyone is drunk and this similarly disinhibits the discourse.

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umbrae
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Postby umbrae » Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:06 pm UTC

I think wikipedia is a far more respectable source than most people seem to accept.

How many people do you know that would purposely falsify a document on wikipedia, really? (Excluding those under the age of 14) Especially with logical arguments? I know perhaps 1 out of the 100 people I know, and that's a stretch.

Or, how many people do you know that would edit a wiki without a really solid understanding of the topic they are editing? I might know about 3 in that regard. But it still only makes it 4% out of 100. That's a pretty good number considering you have 96% of the people working to correct errors and such.

Pseudostatistics aside, I'd still not use it in a research paper, mainly because it's not accepted widely.

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Postby hyperion » Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:18 pm UTC

i find(do?) a lot of research on wikipedia, but when i cite my sources i just check out the sources quoted at the bottom of most articles
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Postby aldimond » Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:21 pm UTC

If you're writing a serious research paper you should be using more specialized sources than an encyclopedia. If you don't know more than common knowledge about a subject an encyclopedia can be helpful, but I think you should get everything that you directly use in the paper from more trusted sources in the field. Even printed encyclopedias are known to have errors; for example, Brittanica's error rate was found to be similar to Wikipedia's in one comparison, with many errors due to outdated information on technical topics.

Though it's not the topic of the thread, I'll definitely say that while sitting at the great global bar that is the Blagonets I trust Wikipedia for resolving arguments before they come to blows.
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Postby wmoonw » Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:57 pm UTC

I'm a grad student now, and I need to fight for every bit of credibility that I can get when writing papers, doing presentations, etc. I love Wikipedia, and I usually use it for a cursory summary of what I'm looking into . . . but I usually follow their external references and find the information elsewhere if I'm going to need to show my references . . .

Maybe when I'm more important than a grad student, I will not worry about it so much ^_^" but for now, Wikipedia wouldn't scan as a reference.

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Postby bmartin » Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:07 pm UTC

If you think Wikipedia kicks ass, check this out. Your donations are currently being matched, so for every penny you donate, they get two pennies. I sent 'em $50!

They're definitely NOT an acceptable source, but many of the articles have references that do provide acceptable sources. I used to be a TA and I was required to make students redo papers that cited Wikipedia.

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Postby Twasbrillig » Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:39 pm UTC

zvezdogled wrote:Our professors don't accept wiki as reference. It has to be a name (human).



My Bibliographies (not formally done but whatever):

Wikipedia, 2005, "The Top 100 Most Popular Porn Sites", Joan Rivers

Wikipedia, 2006, "Where do Raptors Live", Sexychick107

Wikipedia, 2006, "Raptors in Modern-Day Canada", CoooolGuy

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mathematics of Quantum Neutrino Fields", Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mechanics of Quanto Burrito Fields", Philip Fry


Those are real people. Why don't they count?
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Postby warriorness » Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:58 pm UTC

Twasbrillig wrote:Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mathematics of Quantum Neutrino Fields", Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mechanics of Quanto Burrito Fields", Philip Fry


Those are real people. Why don't they count?


Spoiler: those two aren't real

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Postby Framling » Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:40 am UTC

One of the best parts about being out of academia is that I can cite Wikipedia for whatever the hell I want.
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Postby Mix » Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:41 am UTC

warriorness wrote:
Twasbrillig wrote:Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mathematics of Quantum Neutrino Fields", Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mechanics of Quanto Burrito Fields", Philip Fry


Those are real people. Why don't they count?


Spoiler: those two aren't real


Yet....

Wikipedia might work if you have a lazy high school teacher. A good high school teacher and even the laziest university prof will require better sources. Preferably original, peer-reviewed papers from respected journals. Text books will do with most teachers (not all) for some stuff. If you get to the point of actually trying to publish an article, you would be eviscerated if you tried to get away with a wikipedia reference.

I like wikipedia. I use it whenever I'm interested in something. But it's not really valid for research, for a bunch of reasons.

1. As much as people try to make sure everything's right, we can't expect them to have qualified experts in every field checking every minor detail. And "probably right" isn't good enough.

2. It changes constantly. That's it's nature. So if you reference a wiki article, by the time someone reads your paper and checks your citations, the article could be completely different, or gone entirely.

3. You have to know where your information is coming from. That's why you cite your sources, but not everyone who edits wikipedia does.
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Postby Babbler » Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:23 am UTC

High school teachers would allow it, but it's a big no-no in college and university.

I would never trust wikipedia for anything other than triva.

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Postby williamager » Sat Dec 30, 2006 10:43 am UTC

bmartin wrote:They're definitely NOT an acceptable source, but many of the articles have references that do provide acceptable sources. I used to be a TA and I was required to make students redo papers that cited Wikipedia.


If a Wikipedia article does not cite reliable and reputable sources for every assertion, then it has not been written in accordance with the policies and spirit of Wikipedia. Thus, in an ideal world, one would never need to cite or depend on Wikipedia, since proper sources will always be available for citation.

Unfortunately, such referencing is in rarely attained in full, and is often disregarded completely, as evidenced by the innumerable articles which either lack sources entirely, or use as sources material which is unreliable or even disreputable. The latter is of particular detriment to articles on scientific topics, which I frequently edit, and also the associated biographical articles, as there are a number of people who edit such articles to include and extol their favourite pseudoscientific theories. While these are, in most cases, eventually purged from the encyclopaedia by a small group of devoted editors, the procedures to do so are tedious.

In the few cases where such a topic merits an article for extraordinary reasons, such as Time Cube, Astrology, "What the ---- do we know?", or Yoshiaki Omura, there is no established and usable procedure for assuring that the article doesn't degenerate to the point of supporting pseudoscience. In these cases, arguments over content generally go on for months, until the pseudoscience supporters are banned, or simply go on indefinitely. Recent Arbitration Committee activity has made this faster, but the process is still unacceptably slow and time-consuming, which is beneficial to crackpots who can espouse their theories full-time.

In short, in scientific (due to pseudoscience), historical (cultural views), cultural (cultural views), and political (political views) topics, there are a great number of editors who insert incorrect or heavily biased information into Wikipedia, contrary to umbrae's experience. There are many more editors who do not bother to cite their additions, making it difficult to use Wikipedia for citation purposes.[/i]

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Postby yy2bggggs » Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:54 am UTC

Wikipedia can provide you with great insights, and occasionally misinformation, regarding a subject. Encyclopedias in general are similar.

If you use encyclopedias as a source for any paper, you should be slapped if you call such a paper a "research paper". Referring to encyclopedias doesn't really constitute research. At the very least, go and read all of the nice articles sourced by the wikipedia article, and ignore all parts of the article that are or should be marked with [Citation needed].

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Postby umbrae » Sun Dec 31, 2006 6:27 am UTC

Twasbrillig wrote:Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mathematics of Quantum Neutrino Fields", Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mechanics of Quanto Burrito Fields", Philip Fry


Those are real people. Why don't they count?


I think you mean to cite, "The Mathematics of Wanton Burrito Meals."

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Postby hrryank » Sun Dec 31, 2006 7:04 am UTC

Why would anyone even consider using Wikipedia as a reference for a real research paper. I don't even think it's acceptable for high school papers, imho. I'm in awe of the information and effort put into that site, but come on, for most topics at the very best they're accurately citing someone else and you should do the same. Primary sources and all.

I had a couple of acquaintances that actually timed the amount of time it took for someone to correct something they changed on a wikipedia entry. It was a very obvious alteration too. Took like a week. Basically, Wikipedia is a good source of everyday information, but if you want to put it into something official (and yes research papers do count) then it's only really a good place to start from. You need to end up backing up everything with external sources.
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Postby Narsil » Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:03 am UTC

Wikipedia is powered by users on the Internet.
Most Internet users use or have used Wikipedia.
Most Internet users suck and have no idea what they are talking about.
Therefore:
Wikipedia sucks and has no idea what it's talking about.

It's simple math!

Seriously though, if I'm just doing some trivial research for myself on something like Quantum Physics, the X-Men, or Cartoons of the 1940's (and that's just today, Felix the Cat ftw!) then Wikipedia is great. Otherwise, get your ass to the library and do some man's research. As a general rule of thumb, if you can't get a paper cut from it then it's not a valid source.
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Postby Bigspring » Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:19 am UTC

I use the mathematical portions that have proofs that I can follow, but mostly if you're having trouble finding good sources on a topic wikipedia is a great place to look because it will often kick you in the right direction as interesting facts are frequently picked out, as are more reliable sources from which they've gotten their information.

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Postby fredxor » Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:51 pm UTC

I use Wikipedia to better understand my topic and to find other sources for it, but I never use the information from it. I always make sure that any information that I put down is from another source, and I cite that source instead of Wikipedia, just to be safe.

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Postby myoumyouou » Thu Jan 04, 2007 5:43 am UTC

Mix wrote:
warriorness wrote:
Twasbrillig wrote:Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mathematics of Quantum Neutrino Fields", Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

Wikipedia, 3005, "The Mechanics of Quanto Burrito Fields", Philip Fry


Those are real people. Why don't they count?


Spoiler: those two aren't real


Yet....



actually i know a Philip fry, so as such, he's real!
but Dr. Hubert Farnsworth, well i don't know him.
do imaginary friends count? cause if so
i also know a Dr. Hubert Farnsworth

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Postby Ronfar » Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:49 am UTC

Some things that you can find in Wikipedia just aren't found in more traditional sources. For example:

The computer game Planescape: Tormentcontains a whopping one million words of text.

Bob and George was not the first sprite comic on the Web, but it was the first one to gain widespread popularity.

Yeah, it's mostly stupid trivia, but Wikipedia is the greatest repository of stupid trivia in the world. If you're writing about something that just doesn't get very much attention from traditional sources, you have no choice but to use non-traditional ones.
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Postby Tractor » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:36 pm UTC

I dunno about as a research paper source, but it might be a good place to start. Citing wiki itself just seems....sketchy, much like many of its writers :P

Ronfar is absolutely right though, trivia galore. Especially in specific categories with a big fan base, who use wiki to store all the useless facts they have gained about x, where x is there favorite movie/game/person/penguin.

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Framling
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Postby Framling » Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:55 am UTC

A friend of mine recently pointed out the problem with Wikipedia.

Harriet Tubman

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Postby Peshmerga » Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:59 am UTC

Harriet Tubman can't fire lasers out of her eyes

She doesn't deserve ten pages of info!
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Postby xnull » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:01 am UTC

That is classy.

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Lani
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Postby Lani » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:05 am UTC

Heh. You don't even want to see how much info is up for the "Numa Numa" phenomenon.

My friend has a theory that the stupider the phenomenon, the larger Wikipedia entry it will have.
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Postby xnull » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:09 am UTC

Numa Numa

It wasn't that much at all...

And I propose a new question: Is uncyclopedia.org and okay place to use for research?
This statement is false.

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Lani
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Postby Lani » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:11 am UTC

xnull wrote:Numa Numa

It wasn't that much at all...

And I propose a new question: Is uncyclopedia.org and okay place to use for research?


They've cleaned it up quite a lot, then. Last time I saw it, it was pages and pages of information...
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