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Wikipedia as an Academic Source

Executive Summary

Wikipedia has been widely used by students at all levels, as well as people who read for leisure. It is a form of an online encyclopedia which contains a collection of information from all over the world. It is updated by different people, ranging from experts to laymen. In most cases, however, there are contemptuous debates on whether it should be used by students in their academic works due to its unauthenticated sources of information or not. However, students have continued to use the website for their academic works which has led to criticism of the site by their lecturers and tutors. In a study carried out among college students for evaluating the popularity of the site among scholars, it was determined that, out of 200 students, 90% had used the site to complete their assignments. Twenty five percent had always used the site to compose their entire assignments. Despite the large number of students using the site for writing their assignments, the study determined that the tutors did not appreciate the idea, and 73% of the respondents had been warned against the use of the site for the purposes of their academic works. The study, however, revealed that half of the students who were involved in the study used the site to obtain sources for more information for their studies, which provided some hope for tutors and academicians. Some professors have suggested that the site should be closed, in all institutions, to reduce its use by students.

Despite the increased discouragement from the tutors, students find easier to use the site rather than digging deep into books for information. Wikipedia covers a very wide range of topics ranging from literature, engineering, and any other subject that is taught in institutions today. Wikipedia, therefore, provides a very easy solution for students to complete their assignments. The information is provided in a very clear and concise manner thus ensuring that a student will easily understand the content and, therefore, provide the required answers to his assignments.

In some of the cases, people can add information in the content of the Wikipedia website since pages are open for both editing and adding information by the users. This has been a very controversial issue because, although information can be added freely, it is also working against the site since the added information is not only inaccurate, but it cannot be verified either. Tutors, therefore, are disgruntled when students use the website since they could provide wrong answers to their assignments. Many academicians have raised their voices to condemn the site and discouraged use of its content for academic issues. The man who created the site has also discouraged students from using the site, stating that it could be misleading, at times. This is truly a cause to worry, taking into account that he is the one who created the site with the objective of providing free information to people of all walks of life, including students. However, he has said that the site is good for students who are starting to research since there are many resources that students can go through to verify the information provided in the site.

Despite the inaccuracy of the site, several issues can be done to ensure or instill a significant degree of credibility of information available on the site. First, the site should be approved for academic use. Some critics argue that college and university students should be more thorough in their research and avoid the use f encyclopedias. This is because, they argue, the information is shallow, while research at the academic levels should be more detailed and well evaluated to remove doubts of misleading information. Critically speaking, research cannot be compromised, and reports should be made as accurate as possible with the sources well documented and reviewed. This is the real meaning of education and anything that deteriorates its value should be avoided at all costs. If any site is found to be reducing the quality of education that students receive by the end of their respective courses at any level of learning, such sites or sources should be discouraged or even closed. In this case, therefore, if Wikipedia is among such sites, it should be discouraged. However, this process should be done thoroughly, and it should be ensured that no one is left disadvantaged. Instead of eliminating the site, it should be regulated, by means of involving experts in the process. People who add information should have their profiles disclosed to the regulators to determine whether information should be added or not. Students who come from versatile backgrounds need reliable sources of information for their assignments so they could complete their assignments in time and with decent quality. The use of the site should not be discouraged for research purposes, but the following recommendations should be followed in order to improve the quality of information that is provided on the site.


As mentioned before, the site should be regulated in terms of those people who enter information. This would be a very vital step to ensure that there is satisfactorily quality of information that is provided on the site. Before any person adds any information, he or she is supposed to provide a detailed, verifiable reference list which provides the sources of the obtained information.

Personal contributions should be discouraged to ensure that there are fewer entries that are made by individuals. If a personal entry is to be made, though, the person who provides the information would need to be well identified to ensure that there are enough referees who can confirm his competence. A team of persons who would act as administration for the site should be appointed to handle the regulations. Since there are many people who have credible information in any field, they can easily enter their thoughts after a scrutiny analysis is complete.

The site should not be treated as an encyclopedia anymore. Encyclopedias are usually shallow and not well detailed as compared to books and journals. One of the strong points that those who are against the site quote is the fact that the site is only an encyclopedia. Opponents argue that encyclopedias can only provide adequate information to students at lower levels of expertise, or in cases which would not require a thorough, critical analysis.

The site could be used to make advertisement for people who enter data. The names and profiles of the data entrants should be provided for any data set so that they can be appreciated by the readers or experts who man the site. Most of the people who would contribute to the site are authors of certain books and magazines, as well as analysts. Organizations would also be expected to submit reports for posting and value addition. If the information received and posted on the site is plausible for experts and students, the contributors could gain more popularity and get more customers for their works. In cases of publications such as movies, the movie actors may get more sales if their movie were credited as favorable and popular. The information would, therefore, be of better quality since everyone who posted any information would ensure that they post their best information in order to gain a reputation for their work and probably increase sales. A magazine would be described as accurately as possible to lure more people into buying it, and, since there would be a critique section, any exaggeration would be detected and removed.

There should be a column where readers could provide their feedback on every topic or page. On the column, the site administrators should allow comments that criticize the information with facts to argue against the information provided. The site administrators should then provide a minimum score for the page criticized and determine whether the information is correct and well detailed or not. If the latter is the case, the page should be immediately discarded and the person who provided the information banned from posting information, in the future.

Professors and tutors should stop discouraging students against the use of the site. They should realize that there are many people who depend on the information and, since they are the knowledgeable people in the society, they should volunteer to get involved in making the site credible and more reliable. They should realize that Wikipedia has proved very useful to students, and it would be very hard for students to move away from the site. In order to keep the level of education high, both academicians and students should encourage each other to improve the site, by forming an organization that would comprise of experts from all fields. This would serve to improve the quality of information posted on the site. Moreover, they should strive to reduce exaggeration and untrue academic information to ensure that students access the best information for their studies.

The site management team should introduce advertisements on the page to ensure that they raise enough funds to manage and improve the content effectively. These advertisements should be reasonable and should include the academic books and journals that are associated with the people who write for the site. When site contributors activities are regulated, only credible people would be allowed to post information. It would be even preferable if organizations, and not individuals, were encouraged and preferred to provide information. For instance, legal entries should be provided by legal experts who form a certain organization of lawyers and magistrates, while engineering entries ought to be made by engineers’ organizations. This way, there would be a very small margin for error or incredibility of the information provided on Wikipedia.

At present, before any of the above recommendations are implemented, students should not use the site for their academic purposes. They should instead heavily rely on the sources provided by the Wikipedia page. Most of the sources that are provided are credible since they are academic journals, published books, government reports as well as credible non-governmental organizations’ reports. These are reliable sources of information for any research. On the site, some information lack citation, however, it is noted with “citation needed” remark. In such cases, the students should ensure to avoid such information or try to verify it from other academically recognized sources.

Instead of spending a lot of time criticizing and discouraging the use of the site, professors and tutors should start guiding their students on the best ways, how to use the site data. Although some of the information may not be accurate and correct, the site could be used to find sources such as journals that a student should use in the course of his or her studies. This is a very crucial step that could save students from wasting a lot of time trying to find books and journals, as well as provide the required information for their assignments.

Reasons why Wikipedia Should not be Discouraged


Wikipedia has become a popular source of information for students against the wishes of their tutors. It has become a very widely used source of information, despite the debate over the credibility and reliability of these sources. However, this site is important for students, since they can access information which is made available and is collected on the same page. The previous part of the paper has highlighted the necessary steps to ensure that the site is friendly to use. It would, therefore, not be a popular decision to ban the site from the use by students. Students would be in unending crises on where they would get information and few of them would meet the required deadlines. In order to ensure that this does not happen, regulations that have been outlined in the first part of the paper should be implemented, especially with the inclusion if the site critics alongside with the site development. This would be an elegant solution because, despite the calls not to use it, students would continue exploring Wikipedia behind the tutor’s backs, as well as deliver respective information in their assignments. Some of the reasons that should prompt the professors and other tutors from lobbying for the closure of the site will be discussed below.

The Site is Cheap

The site can be accessed b y any student. It has no payable downloaded essays thus provide information for free. This is a very special feature because it is universal that books and journals are not easily accessed and always charge money for the purchase. This gets the students from poor families disadvantaged since they cannot access the required books and other documents for information. Although many people regard cheaply acquired goods and services as not very durable and reliable, Wikipedia offers a different platform since the people who update the site are not driven by money or reward but rather their craving desire to spread their knowledge. They would be expected to provide the correct information, unlike those who would be motivated by money. Actions that are driven by desire, and not material benefits, always look better and are more sincere. This is the case with Wikipedia where information is provided by volunteers.

Credible Sources

Most of the sources that are used on the site are very credible and reliable. They include sources from government reports, NGO reports such as the UN, statistical organizations, magazines such as Forbes, Newspapers as well as renowned media houses. They also use credible and published books and academic journals. Though, at times, there are no sources, the site cannot be discredited fully over the few cases. Therefore, people should have an access to use the site cautiously and put into consideration the sources of information they use in their reports and research works. For instance, most of the information that is available on the site in the medical field is referenced and cited from medical, academic journals. In most cases, the unclear or inaccurate information would occur in cases of general knowledge. This nuisance, however, does not mean that the site is incorrect entirely; however, some areas need to be revised and improved in order to make search of information for students easier. Further, students should be allowed to follow the links provided as sources which could lead to delving of information from journals and books that may not be available in libraries and teachers’ custody. Once students start to use the site, they get important leads into the research they would be conducting.

Condensed Information

The information that is provided by the site is usually condensed and well explained. Apart from the cases of inaccuracy, the delivery of information on the site is exemplary and plausible. Furthermore, the information is placed on the same page, and the student would access it easily, without navigating through multiple pages. This would not only save time for students to complete their assignments, but also provide a lot of information clearly, giving the student a whole understanding of the topic that he or she is supposed to research. Any student can, therefore, use this wide knowledge to look at the assignments from multiple angles than if he were to research the topic from different sources. Students, therefore, can develop a creative and thorough thesis statement that would eventually be plausible to the tutor and student’s academic development.

Ease of Access

The site is, on top of being cheap, is very easy to access. The Search Engine used for Wikipedia is so strong that anything that one types with Wikipedia would appear without struggle. It is, therefore, very easy to get information unlike other sites where one has to navigate many pages before they get what they want.

Grown Popularity of the Site

The site is very popular among students due to the aforementioned factors. It is, therefore, not a very easy thing to compel to students to leave it and follow rather complex methods to obtain information, instead. The site has provided students with an easy option for their assignments and research thus hard to shrug off. The student’s responsibilities are increasing day by day, and this would make them look for the easiest options for their academic solutions. Any effort to make them look for more complex sources of information for their academic purposes might not be fruitful. The site should, therefore, be regulated, and students should be encouraged to use Wikipedia rather than quit using it.

Past Assignments Scored High Grades

Despite calls from tutors to depopularise the site, students who have used it for their assignments have scored high marks continually. Professors and other tutors rarely detect the difference between the Wikipedia sources and other sources, unless it is indicated in the reference list. This shows that the information obtained from Wikipedia is not so bad after all. If the correct measures are taken and the site regulated, it could be one of the best places to obtain information for academic assignments.


The importance of high quality education and highly knowledgeable graduating students should never be compromised. These elements ensure the development of an elite society that is capable to run the affairs in the world efficiently, from the individual to global levels. High quality education should, therefore, be encouraged, and the best scholars need to be well rewarded according to their performances. In this case, any source of information, which an institution delivers as knowledge to its students, should be proved reliable and credible. All sources of information that are misleading should be discouraged and moved away from students.

Wikipedia is among the many online sites where students obtain their information to write assignments. The usage of the site is increasing every day despite the increasing critics and discouragement by tutors and professors. The move to de-popularize the site is failing every day. The site creator continue discouraging students to use it for their studies, but the response showed that his calls were not maintained. This trend calls for a different approach. The people who discourage use of Wikipedia for academic purposes should now see the importance of consolidated easily accessed information, where students can obtain data and knowledge on various subjects. They should, therefore, start strategizing the best way to teach their students how to use the site instead of de-popularizing it. They should, therefore, come up with ways that would regulate the quality and accuracy of data that are posted there through close monitoring and a more strict approach to the maintenance of the site. This would help students continue enjoying using the site while at the same time keeping the quality of information they obtain uncompromised.

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