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Why not Wikipedia?

September 9, 2010
used under Wikipedia trademark guidelines

used under Wikipedia trademark guidelinesI am very blessed to get to spend time with teachers, technology directors, campus integrators, and other lovers of technology. Having said that, I have a burr in my side (as we say down here in Texas). I recently worked with a couple of collaboratives on writing some competitive grants. After not receiving the grants, we requested our grant scores and reviews. I was surprised that one of the reviewers was very concerned that we listed Wikipedia and Wolfram-Alpha as resources in our professional development plan. The reviewer stated that these sources are unreliable. Which brings me to my question: Why not Wikipedia?

So, where did I go to find my answer? Wikipedia, of course. You see, much like the other 50% of college graduates who use online resources {1}, I always start with Wikipedia. I knew if I went to Wikipedia I would be able to find several primary sources to conduct my research. Not surprising to me I found 110 primary resources. I also found an article on the reliability of Wikipedia. And, not surprising to me it was unbiased in its presentation, citing articles from both side of the argument and several primary research studies with their limitations.

Please do not mistake my love of Wikipedia for an affirmation of the correctness of its information. I use it as resource to help me find other resources. If the information I find is incorrect, I will find it in my continued research. But, at least I will have a place to start. Often, I will take a primary resource from Wikipedia and go to my second beloved Google Scholar to see if I can determine the number of citations and any other associated primary resources.

The bottom line is Internet research is you have to start somewhere. I say, why not Wikipedia?

Oh, and if you intend to comment with any factual contraries, please leave your primary resource….

Source: Wikipedia

{1} Lee Rainie and Bill Tancer (April 2007). “Data Memo”. Pew/Internet Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved 2007-10-31.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joshua permalink
    October 12, 2010 12:27 PM

    I absolutely second your argument for wikipedia being a viable choice when selecting resources for information, primarily because the number one goal of wikipedia is to provide factual information. When people post random info about a subject they aren’t very familiar with moderators take it down from the page. There are always people watching those pages to keep the informations integrity. I’m not saying that it should be used always but as you said it serves as an amazing start. Best of luck on those grants.

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