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Using Wikipedia for Academic Research (CLIP)

When you're beginning an academic research project, Wikipedia may be the first thing that comes in an internet search. The video below from the Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP) explains how and when you should use Wikipedia in your academic work.

Overview:

1. Wikipedia should typically not be used as a source in your papers--not because it's a bad source, but because it's an encyclopedia, and college research should consist of more sophisticated sources than encyclopedias. 

2. Instead, use Wikipedia when you're just beginning your research in order to get a general overview of your topic.

3. Look at the citations on the Wikipedia page to find the original source of the information. Evaluate them for suitability as sources for your research.

4. Also look at the list of external links at the end of the Wikipedia article for more related information.

Wikipedia tips and tricks

Edit:

To edit a Wikipedia article, click the "edit" tab on the top right.

Wikipedia page with "edit" tab highlighted

View Source:

If the article doesn't have an "edit" tab, that means it's locked for editing only by registered users. You can still view the source code for the page, but you can't edit it anonymously. 

Wikipedia article with "View Source" tab highlighted

View History:

Click the "View history" tab to see when the article was edited and by who. You can also compare different revisions of the article.

Wikipedia article with "view history" tab highlighted.

Viewing Citations:

Each citable fact in the article should have a superscript number after it referring to a footnote for the source:

Wikipedia article with superscript footnote highlighted

Hover over the footnote number to view a citation for the source, or click on the footnote number to go to the full References list at the bottom of the article. Here, you may be able to click on the reference to go to its original source.

Wikipedia article References list

Wikipedia Tools

Tools:

Wikipedia also provides tools for citing, creating permalinks, printing, and more on the left side of each article:

Wikipedia article with "tools" and "print/export" highlighted

Language:

Change the language of the article you're reading at any time by clicking your desired language on the bottom left.

Wikipedia article with "languages" highlighted

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