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This guide aims to introduce Wikipedia to potential editors and give you enough information so you can begin to create and edit Wikipedia pages. This guide also gives you information on using Wikipedia as a starting point for research and how to determine whether an article is reliable or not.
Video - Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it. It is a special type of website designed to make collaboration easy, called a wiki. Many people are constantly improving Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour.
In a white paper published by Turnitin Wikipedia remains the most popular single source for student-matched content on the Web, comprising 7% of matches in the months examined.
On the topic of whether or not students should cite Wikipedia the Turnitin white paper had this to say:
"While there is no doubt that Wikipedia is a useful resource for almost any topic imaginable, many instructors discourage, even reject, papers that rely on Wikipedia as a source because they question the accuracy and validity of the content. Instead, instructors are asking students to cite primary or secondary source material. "
Uses and Benefits of Wikipedia
Research Skills: Wikipedia can be a good starting point when researching a topic, but should be viewed as a tertiary source. To ensure the quality of the Wikipedia article is useful for your research you should evaluate the references that support the article.
Digital and Information Literacy: By using and maybe contributing to Wikipedia articles you can learn more about how the information on Wikipedia is developed and produced, which will in turn allow for an understanding of the usefulness of articles for your research.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking comes into play when you are evaluating an article for reliability of sources and deciding on the area that needs improving or editing.
Collaboration: The community of Wikipedia is active and engaging and it would be difficult to work on a project on your own on this platform as it is a collaborative platform. Not only will you have people collaborating and working on an article together but you will also be receiving feedback on the parts you have worked on and you will be able to improve your editing skills.
Academic Writing: Wikipedia's emphasis on the use of reliable sources help with the development of your referencing skills. You also get experience writing while editing or creating Wikipedia articles.