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Wikipedia: Using Wikipedia

This guide will help you to use Wikipedia in an appropriate way to get background and bibliographic information.

Why Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is often used to get a topic overview and research background information. Many faculty object to direct use of Wikipedia, since the content may be contributed by anybody. While Wikipedia tends to be self-correcting because of many readers and a system of subject editors,  users are well advised to be especially careful to evaluate this source carefully.

Using This Guide

This guide will show you how to intelligently use Wikipedia to get started with your research

The tabs to the left ("Topic Overview," "Using References & External Links," "Is Wikipedia Accurate?," and "Evaluating Sources") will illustrate best practices when using Wikipedia for academic research.

Can you use Wikipedia for academic research?

There are ways you can use Wikipedia in your academic research. At a college or university level, many faculty will not want you to use an encyclopedia as a cited source, so you should check with your instructor.  Nevertheless, an encyclopedia can give you a great overview of your topic as well as suggest key words for further searching in the library catalog or library article databases. Check out the 3.5 minute video from the Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP):

The tabs to the left ("Getting a topic overview," "Using References and External Links," "Wikipedia and accuracy," and "Evaluating sources") will illustrate some of the same concepts.

Wikipedia for Academic Research

Wikipedia, like an encyclopedia, can give you a great overview of your topic as well as suggest key words for further searching in the library catalog or library article databases. Check out this 3.5 minute video from the Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP):

Wikipedia Search Link

Search Wikipedia:

Guide Author

Joel A. Cohen, Ph. D., M.L.S.
Reference Librarian
email: cohen@canisius.edu