Wikipedia in academics has been linked to a feeling of “culture shock” for many students and professors. It is not uncommon for students to be warned of the negative presence of Wikipedia, though it remains a popular resource for all.
Wikipedia as a negative reference source for students has a great deal of merit, one one side of the argument. Thus it should not be used in any overwhelming manner.
The negatives surrounding the use of Wikipedia for students are easily seen. The information that is placed onto Wikipedia articles is not confirmed by any editor. Wikipedia is one of many very lenient printing services, which mimics a blogs idea of an open set of information. It is up for interpretation and accuracy. The information that is placed on the site is done so by users, who add and regulate the information.
This kind of setup poses dangers to students who make take what Wikipedia has to say in a primary manner. With information that is not confirmed by any academically reliable source, such articles are not able to be relied upon. In some cases the information that Wikipedia has is simply inaccurate or, more likely, misleading or argumentative in some manner.
However, as this line of logic is the basic feeling that most students are warned of, Wikipedia does hold some worth for students.
Students can take advantage of Wikipedia’s ability to accustom one to the basic outline of a topic or subject. For example, if a student is unaware of the basic thoughts, context, and ideas that make up “Humanism,” a quick search can lead one to become cognizant of such areas.
The key is to use Wikipedia to gain insight into a particular topic. This way, the student is able to identify an area in which to perform research of academically-worth sources. In some cases the sources directly on the Wikipedia page can be helpful to this end.
For students Wikipedia can be a useful tool. While detrimental to some that use it in an academically-inadvisable manner, it can be powerful as a starting point of research.