What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia. Unlike traditional encyclopaedias, for example the Encyclopaedia Britannica, pages in Wikipedia are written collaboratively by anybody who wishes to add information.
Contributors from all over the world volunteer their time and knowledge to add content, but they do not need to be experts in the subjects they write about.
Wikipedia pages can be edited at any time, so new information can be added quickly to keep articles up to date. Information you read on Wikipedia today, may be changed or deleted tomorrow.
Should I use Wikipedia for my Research?
Wikipedia is not an authoritative source of information for academic study. This means you should not quote from Wikipedia in your assignments.
However, like other encyclopaedias, Wikipedia can be useful as background reading. When you are researching a new topic, Wikipedia may give you an overview and introduce you to its concepts and related terminology. Also, many Wikipedia pages have sections of “References”, “Sources” or “Further reading” which can help you identify more reliable sources on the subject you are researching.
What should I consider when reading Wikipedia pages?
Wikipedia contributors are anonymous, so you cannot know if a page was written by an author who has good expertise in this area.
Many Wikipedia pages are comprehensive, well-referenced introductions to a topic, but many pages also contain errors, bias, out-dated information or deliberate misinformation.
In common with all other sources, you should always use critical judgement when reading Wikipedia pages.