Stamford Student Asks: Is It OK To Use Wikipedia?

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Students should use Wikipedia carefully when doing research projects. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Do you have a question about your middle or high school student’s studying practices? S4 Study Skills, an area leader in providing evidence-based study skills and test preparation workshops for students, will answer questions from Daily Voice readers. If you have a question, please submit it here 

Is it OK to use Wikipedia when I work on a report for school?
Katie S., Stamford

Wikipedia can be a useful resource, but it has its place, and its place is not as a primary source for research. It can be a good starting place to introduce yourself to a new subject, but you should never end with Wikipedia.

Because any one can contribute to Wikipedia, the most important point about using the information is to make sure that you always check against a reliable source. The end of every Wikipedia article cites References and External links. These will give you an idea of quality of sources that have contributed to the story. Articles that don’t use citations are red flags regarding their truth and validity. If there’s no citation, typically, Wikipedia indicates this with “citation needed” at the end of a particular declaration. If information is not cited, don’t use it.

We (and most teachers) do not recommend that you cite Wikipedia as a source on a paper or project. Click through to the references and external links for source material; these are often useful and reliable.

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