Wikipedia For Research Papers

When writing academic material, there is a condition that ties into referencing whatever content is borrowed from other researchers. This gives credit to the researchers for their contribution to the topic. It is also important that the writer does not get credit for work that they have not researched. As such, it is important that the researchers reference that various works that they use in their papers not just for the credits for their work but also their credibility when conducting essay writing. The aspect of referencing is crucial and requires that the material is used especially for scholarly content. The sources have to be selected carefully to reflect quality research practices. Wikipedia is one of the most used sources and while it may contain some credible information, it should not be used for academic purposes.

Edited by Any User

The first red flag that is associated with Wikipedia as a source is the fact that it can be edited by anyone. This means that the element of vetting the right persons to edit the content on the website is not available. As such, the chances of having information that is correctly vetted for the truth in the matter is highly likely. As such, there are chances of having inaccurate accounts of the content, which when used will represent poor research and more important misguided information. When referencing, it is important to note that, a paper is as a strong as the sources that have been cited in the completion of the paper. Where sources such as Wikipedia are used, this means that the information is weak and could easily be inaccurate.

Research Ethos

When writing a research paper in an academic setting, there is the element of ethos that researchers have to consider. This is associated with the authority on the subject. There are scholars that have written articles and the research paper in the field of study and as such, they have some significant authority in the field. Using their work in a research paper adds to the authority that they carry with them. It is the same case as mentioned above about credibility. With the authority that the researchers have brought to the paper, the material is more coherent and more importantly accurate.

When using Wikipedia, it is important to note that this is a source that offers the general overview of the topic in question. As such, it does not offer researchers with the specific material. It is more like a collaborated source of information from different users about the topic. Quoting the actual research papers that were done by past researchers is more credible than relying on hearsay on a website that accumulates opinions on the topic based on what they have read from other sources.  Therefore, when researchers are using Wikipedia, it should only be for the general information that they need to better understand what the topic is about before they can then narrow down to past academic papers that have been published in reputable journals.

Content Interpretation

There is an element of lack in the content interpretation that the source presents and a custom research paper writing service and similar companies are quite keen on this. This is relative to the fact that, Wikipedia presents the facts as they have been mentioned in other sources and accumulated by the consensus from the users. However, this lacks the interpretive value that learners need to be able to better understand the content as they interact with the material. There is a very significant level of understanding that is required when it comes to learning. As such, the lack of interpretation of the material presented makes the source unreliable for learning. By having the facts, this presented the challenge of again getting the interpretation and hence application.

Founder’s Advise

Ironically, even the founder of the site, Mr. Wales to the fact that it should not be referenced for academic material such as school essays and research reports. In his interview, Wales’s points out that, the site only offers overviews into the content that the researchers are looking into. It does not offer the correct position and hence the researchers have to be very careful when using the source. He also points out that, for students, this is only a source to give them the guideline in the content that they are researching. However, he is quick to point out that, there are bits of information that is not correctly researched and have been included by users on the site. As such, it is crucial for the researchers to make sure that the research from other reputable sources and ascertain the accuracy of the information that they may gather from the Wikipedia records. He also points out that it is an encyclopedia and not an academic source that can be used for research purposes such as essays and research reports. Rather, students should never site the source unless they have been instructed by the teachers to do the same. For the correct information, the researchers have to be very careful to source the content from primary and secondary sources.


Conclusively, Wikipedia is a source of significant information. However, it is compromised in a number of ways and as such cannot be used as an academic source. This includes the fact that, it can be edited by anyone, it is low on research ethos, poor content interpretation and even the founder advises users not to use as an academic reference.


Should you use Wikipedia as a credible resource?

because even though Wikipedia is one of the Webs most popular reference sites,
it isnt a credible resource because anyone is allowed to be a contributor to
the website.

Wikipedia Academic has posted an article explaining why
it is a bad idea (


Below is the article:

Caution: It is often
a bad idea to cite an encyclopedia in academic research papers.

Wikipedia is increasingly used by people in the academic
community, from first-year students to professors, as the easiest source of
information about anything and everything. However, citation of Wikipedia in
research papers may not be considered acceptable, because Wikipedia is not a
creditable source.


This can be avoided by following two simple rules:

  • Do your research assignment properly. Remember that any
    encyclopedia is a starting point for research, not an ending point.
  • An encyclopedia is great for getting a general understanding of a
    subject before you dive into it. But then you do have to dive into your subject,
    using books and articles and other appropriate sources. What you find in your
    other sources will be more detailed, more precise, and more carefully reasoned
    than the summary you found in an encyclopedia. The sources you cite in your
    paper will be the more detailed sources you have used. All you need to do with
    Wikipedia, then, is thank it in your heart.



An encyclopedia is great for checking little details.
Little details may be:

  • General knowledge that you have forgotten, like the starting date
    of the

    First World War or the boiling point of


mercury. In that case, you should recognize the information once you find
it, and know it’s right. Citation is not needed for things that are general

  • A somewhat obscure point, like the population of

    Ghana. If this matters for your assignment, you should verify the
    information using a tried and tested source, such as the

    CIA World Factbook.


  • A very obscure point, such as the names of the founders of the


Social Democrat Hunchakian Party. This may be almost impossible to find
anywhere other than Wikipedia, unless you read

Armenian, which you probably don’t, or are prepared to spend an hour in the
library, which you probably don’t want to. In this case, you should rely on–and


Use your judgment. Remember that all sources have to be


  • If your professor has assigned you an article or a chapter, that
    means your professor thinks it is basically OK. Do you trust your professor?
    That’s usually enough.


  • If a book is in your university library or published by a

    university press, or if an article is in a standard

    academic journal, that means that several professors at some point thought
    it was basically OK. But time may have passed, and the book or article may now
    be out of date.


  • If your source is a website, it may be great or it may be awful.


  • A Wikipedia article may be as good as (or better than!) an article
    assigned to you by your professor, or it may contain inaccurate information and
    eccentric judgments. It is unlikely to be as bad as the worst sort of website.
    You have to judge.



Increasingly Wikipedia information will be referenced
with academic references.� Hopefully when you see a fact in Wikipedia you will
be able to quickly verify it with an online, academic source, which you can cite
instead of Wikipedia.


Connors State College is not liable for the
information stated above.

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