Wikipedia as a credible source for your research paper?

Although Wikipedia is a good place to start your research, it is not a credible source that you should use to cite from. Wikipedia allows multiple users to edit, and it is not safe to assume that the facts presented there have been checked before publishing them. Wikipedia's policy does say that references should be used whenever possible, but the quality of these references is questionable, because people who are not experts in a field can update a page anytime to reflect whatever information they feel to be true and even back it up with heavily biased sources.

Wikipedia is not the only user-created encyclopedia. Wiki sites, too, are not credible sources. They come on a variety of topics, so pretty much anything with the word wiki appearing in the title or link should be avoided.

That said, Wikipedia entries are generally in the forefront of any web research and can be great sources to get preliminary information on a topic and find reliable sources through their notes, references, external links and further reading sections. Here's how you can use Wikipedia for your research:

Getting background information

Wikipedia can be great for your first research on a topic. It has such a broad subject matter available and it can connect you to further research on the subject.

Generating keywords and search terms

The hardest part in research can sometimes be finding the right keywords to use when searching libraries or databases. Reviewing the article for terms that could be relevant for your own research can bring many clues and lead your research into new directions.

Many articles have a list of external links at the bottom. These can be sites with further information and often, they are credible sources that can be used to cite from.

External links in Wikipedia
Example of the external links section in Wikipedia


Make sure to always check the references section at the bottom of the article. It links to the various sources used when the article was put together. These sources can be useful for your own research and can also inform you of the reliability of the article on Wikipedia.

References in Wikipedia
Example of a references section in Wikipedia