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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good Research Advice

Wikipedia, which just celebrated its tenth birthday, has become a popular source for student research. Central Michigan Life reports:

Even people who use reference books should make sure the author is citing prominent thinkers in the field, said Chris Owens, assistant professor of political science, and using Wikipedia today is like using an encyclopedia was when he was in college.

“If you write a paper and it only has Wikipedia cites you’re going to get a bad grade,” he said. “There are plenty of electronic books and journals you can use.”

Owens said the source is useful for finding background on a topic but should be avoided for anything deeper. Novi sophomore Joe Betro uses Wikipedia for just that.

“I do (use it) in my reports, not to quote Wikipedia, but to find other reliable sources,” Betro said. “Most of my professors actually tell me to use it … as a jumping off point.”


It is up to each professor whether they allow Wikipedia as a source, Peters said. Owens and [historian Randy] Doyle do not allow their students to use the site as a source.

See here for more on the use of Wikipedia as a starting point instead of a citable source.

See here for broader advice on research.