A-b-a-a-a-a-a-a-b-a - Assessments - Expert Opinion - Academia


Academics have also criticized Wikipedia for its perceived failure as a reliable source, and because Wikipedia editors may not have degrees or other credentials generally recognized in academia. For that reason, the use of Wikipedia is not accepted in many schools and universities in writing a formal paper, and some educational institutions have banned it as a primary source while others have limited its use to only a pointer to external sources. This criticism, however, may not only apply to Wikipedia but to encyclopedias in general – some university lecturers are not impressed when students cite print-based encyclopedias in assigned work.

An empirical study conducted in 2006 by a Nottingham University Business School lecturer in Information Systems, the subject of a review on the technical website Ars Technica, involving 55 academics asked to review specific Wikipedia articles that either were in their expert field (group 1) or chosen at random (group 2), concluded that "The experts found Wikipedia's articles to be more credible than the non–experts. This suggests that the accuracy of Wikipedia is high. However, the results should not be seen as support for Wikipedia as a totally reliable resource as, according to the experts, 13 percent of the articles contain mistakes (10% of the experts reported factual errors of an unspecified degree, 3% of them reported spelling errors)."

The Gould Library at Carleton College in Minnesota has a web-page describing the use of Wikipedia in academia. It asserts that "Wikipedia is without question a valuable and informative resource", but that "there is an inherent lack of reliability and stability" to its articles, again drawing attention to similar advantages and limitations as other sources. As with other reviews it comments that one should assess one's sources and what is desired from them, and that "Wikipedia may be an appropriate resource for some assignments, but not for others." It cited Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales' view that Wikipedia may not be ideal as a source for all academic uses, and (as with other sources) suggests that at the least, one strength of Wikipedia is that it provides a good starting point for current information on a very wide range of topics.

In 2007, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article written by Cathy Davidson, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and English at Duke University, in which she asserts that Wikipedia should be used to teach students about the concepts of reliability and credibility.

In 2008, Hamlet Isakhanli, founder and president of Khazar University, compared the Encyclopædia Britannica and English Wikipedia articles on Azerbaijan and related subjects. His study found that Wikipedia covered the subject much more widely, more accurately and in more detail, though with some lack of balance, and that Wikipedia was the best source for the first approximation.

Steve Jones, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that the number of Wikipedia articles is so large that it "seems impossible that they could police it in an effective way".

Geoffrey Nunberg, an adjunct full professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information, has criticized Wikipedia for relying too much on citing sources even though the said sources may not be more accurate than Wikipedia itself.

Some academic journals do refer to Wikipedia articles, but are not elevating it to the same level as traditional references. For instance, Wikipedia articles have been referenced in "enhanced perspectives" provided on-line in the journal Science. The first of these perspectives to provide a hyperlink to Wikipedia was "A White Collar Protein Senses Blue Light", and dozens of enhanced perspectives have provided such links since then. The publisher of Science states that these enhanced perspectives "include hypernotes – which link directly to websites of other relevant information available online – beyond the standard bibliographic references".

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