Use of the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, continues to grow amongst students, whilst increasing numbers of lecturers ban its use within references or bibliographies. We were just wondering why do you use it? Is it simply because its entries rank towards the top in a Google search? Or have you found the entries that you have used to be trustworthy? If so, how could you tell? Did you check them out?
Lecturers (and librarians) warn against its indiscriminate use because of concerns about the quality of the information as it is not peer reviewed before it is posted and there have therefore been instances of bias or simply incorrect information being posted. However, it is recognised as being the largest online encyclopaedia in the world and alot of its information is, by the law of averages, OK.
However, there are better sources of information out there. Did you know that the Library provides access to electronic dictionaries and encyclopaedias in Metalib? [Go to Category – Reference Books and the browse]. We have 82 encyclopaedias and many of them can be searched all at the same time, e.g. Sage eReference and Gale Virtual Reference. Titles include Feminism in Literature, Encyclopedia of White-Collar Crime , Encyclopedia of Sociology, Encyclopedia of Management, Encyclopedia of Politics. You will find authoritative definitions and explanations, related entries, plus extra reading, where appropriate. Admittedly you will need to use your Athens username and password off-campus for most of the titles, or an individual password from our passwords page. You rarely need a password on-campus though.
If you want more information than you can get in the encyclopaedias, then try to find some journal articles on your topic. Again, you can use the databases in Metalib to find quality articles, but if you are looking on the web then Google Scholar is worth a go, as well. Just remember to evaluate the articles carefully to make sure that they are from a reputable source. If you need advice on this, look at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/library/InfoTrail/Mod5/Intro/index.html.
Let us know what you think about our e-reference sources. We are looking to expand what we have and so please let us know what you need. Why is Wikipedia so attractive?