Wikipedia as a Research Tool

Wikipedia as a Tool for Research

David Powell

MGT 521

April 18, 2011

Dr. Cheryl Lentz

Wikipedia as a Tool for Research

      While Wikipedia is clearly an unreliable source of information for the purposes of academic research, the value it has as an egalitarian platform allowing open participation and collaboration is clear.   This author is arguing not against the value of Wikipedia as a service to people surfing the web but against its inclusion as a valid research tool for academic writing. In this essay, the author will present an argument against the idea that Wikipedia should be allowed as a valid source for research. The issue of inconsistencies at Wikipedia where criteria for evaluating online sources is concerned will be discussed and used to bolster the author’s position. However, the general cases for and against Wikipedia will be included in a fair and balanced way with the intent to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions.
The Case for Wikipedia
      The lack of strict controls on editing and adding content keeps Wikipedia from being taken seriously as a reliable source of information. Since the site is policed and regulated by the Wikipedia community (comprised of everyone and anyone) many people believe that the content is filled with factually incorrect information.  However, according to a 2005 study done by Nature, Wikipedia contains only slightly more inaccuracies in science-related topics than does Encyclopedia Britannica” (Chandler & Gregory, 2010, pg 248, paragraph 1).  The reality is that information is fluid and can alter rapidly.  Print sources are no more valid a credible source because they quickly become outdated.  Many other electronic sources can face the same issue of fact mishap or outdate sourcing.  Wikipedia is not the only credible source online but should be viewed as a valid resource.
      Some opine that Wikipedia is a balanced, neutral...