Sometimes finding sources for your essay and research papers can be challenging. And with multiple web pages, you can be tempted to use anything, which will most likely dent your writing and academic reputation.
Among the many information sources not recommended by teachers is Wikipedia. Even though it ranks high in particular search results in most cases, it does not mean it is credible. But why yet it seems like an authority?
This post explores why teachers don’t like Wikipedia, why it is not considered a scholarly article, and what sources are the best for your paper.
Why Do Teachers Discourage the Use of Wikipedia
One primary reason teachers discourage the use of Wikipedia is that it is not a reliable source. Ideally, the site has tons of information and gets edited by anyone, even non-experts, meaning its data is not guaranteed to be accurate.
And when it comes to citing information sources, you should use verifiable sources written by experts. But Wikipedia allows anyone with an account that anyone can create to add or change information about any topic imaginable.
Also see: Is mayo clinic a credible source?
Therefore, this becomes problematic when trying to find accurate information on a subject since anyone can post anything they want without any proof or evidence backing up their claims.
Additionally, Wikipedia is a tertiary information source, meaning it derives its information from primary and secondary sources. In this process, there might be distortions and misrepresentation of facts, which may make citing it not a very good idea.
This makes it difficult for you if you rely heavily on Wikipedia as a research source. You may receive incorrect information in your papers, negatively affecting your grades.
Also, Wikipedia search results appear on top of web pages. This means you do not perform deep research to find the necessary information as a student. In most cases, credible information is located deep into Google pages and needs the expertise to retrieve it.
Can I Use Wikipedia as a Source for My Research Paper
Generally, you can use Wikipedia as a starting point to research, but it should not be the only source. Additionally, you should not cite it because it is a tertiary source that may have errors and unverifiable information.
Ideally, you can use Wikipedia as a source for your research paper, but it’s essential to know it is not an accurate encyclopedia or a dictionary. It is not comprehensive but a resource anyone can edit and build.
But you must consider a few factors if you desire to use it. First, you must ensure the information you are using is up-to-date and accurate. You can do this by looking at the article’s date and any links used within the piece. You can also follow the reference lists to find more information and verify what Wikipedia has stated.
Furthermore, Wikipedia’s guidelines suggest that contributors cite references for all claims. Essentially, it means that provided there is a reference, you can include any information.
This allows readers to see where the information came from and help them determine whether it is reliable. However, this does not mean everything on Wikipedia is inaccurate or unreliable.
Why Is Wikipedia Not Considered a Scholarly Source
Wikipedia does not meet the standard threshold for a scholarly source, such as being peer-reviewed and having expert contributions. Generally, it helps find background information on topics related to your research, but it should not be used as an authoritative source.
Further, it is a website that can be editable by anyone. There are no standards for accuracy or quality control in place. In other words, if you want to use Wikipedia as your sole research source, you may find either inaccurate or wrong information.
Additionally, with its open nature, its content frequently changes over time. This means someone who wants their opinion heard about something controversial could go into Wikipedia and change the entire article to say whatever they want.
Also, many volunteers contribute to the information found on Wikipedia, and there are no specific rules about how to go about writing. This means that contributors do not necessarily have formal training in research methods or writing, making the contributions less reliable than those of an academic writer or researcher.
What Kind of Sources Are Allowed in Academic Writing
When you write an academic paper, your sources need to be scholarly. It means the sources should be credible, have gone through the peer review process, and can be trusted to provide accurate information. Credibility is based on several factors, which generally means the source is objective and unbiased.
Another factor that affects credibility is whether or not the author has been trained in their field of study, so they have more expertise than others in understanding their topic.
This doesn’t mean that every expert is always right — experts are only correct when talking about things within their expertise. Additionally, credibility is affected by whether there’s evidence supporting what’s being said.
Professional journals are usually considered scholarly sources because they contain research results that were reviewed and approved by experts in the field before they were published.
Newspapers and magazines are also regarded as scholarly sources when they publish articles based on interviews with experts or original research conducted by someone who is already an expert in their field of study.
Other sources include;
One or many authors usually write these and contain facts about a particular topic. They are a great source of information because they have large amounts of information on one subject. Experts or non-experts can write them, so it is vital to check their credentials before using them as a source
Websites are another good source for finding information about any topic. However, just like with books and journals, it is crucial to check their credibility.
Theses and dissertations
These are scholarly papers that graduate students write to complete their degree requirements. The former is required for master’s degrees, while the latter is for doctoral degrees. They contain deep and reliable research that you can use in your academic writing.
Government records are documents created and maintained by the government. They include reports, memos, letters from government agencies, and information about laws passed and taxes paid.