Have you ever used Wikipedia? When you find some information, if you use Wikipedia, you can find it faster and more easily. Today, Wikipedia has come into wide use because of its convenience. Though it is handy and general, however, there is a controversy on using Wikipedia in academic works. According to Meredith Byers, “Wikipedia is also easy to find; it frequently appears at the top of many Google searches and access is completely free” (2007, para. 3). On the other hand, she also said that some departments of universities forbid students from quoting when they work on papers and take an examination. Wikipedia should not be used in academic environments because of three reasons: Wikipedia is not authentic, academic works influence other parts of academic areas, and out-of-date information on Wikipedia is rarely updated.
First of all, all information on Wikipedia is not authentic. Jason Wolverton said, “Users can add, alter, or remove information without registering a user account, giving those who visit the site free and anonymous reign over the available information” (2007, para.7). It means that the information gotten from Wikipedia could be wrong. The information which is not accurate can cause academic papers to lose credibility, and it can cause readers to get incorrect information. Furthermore, writers who use Wikipedia could spend time by getting incorrect information. So, it is dangerous to use Wikipedia.
Secondly, knowledge in academic works does not stay at the first work. Because academic works are cumulative, the knowledge in academic works can be used in other academic papers to support or prove new information. Jason Wolverton said that because the information of Wikipedia is flexible, it is not necessarily accurate; in addition, it is attended with the burden of being used in academic works (Wolverton, 2007). When people write a paper, they have resorted to many research materials, and in the meantime, they cite and paraphrase. But, if the information which they get from Wikipedia is wrong, it is difficult to support their ideas, as well as convince readers. It also can affect all over paper.
Finally, the date of information is inaccurate on Wikipedia. Therefore, out-of-date information has not been updated since the first information was posted. In statistics, especially out-of-date information is hardly updated. It is effective to use a numerical statement when you want to show some facts. However, the information on Wikipedia is old-fashioned, and therefore it could not support facts; in addition it is difficult to trust it. In other words, the data to support people’s ideas and theory could not be strong.
Some advocates have said that Wikipedia is useful. In David Parry’s article, he said that Wikipedia is being used as a way of teenagers’ communication (2008). However, even though academic work is also the way of communication for new knowledge, the information should not be in academic areas if it is not accurate. It is because announcing accurate information is the purpose of academic work. Edward Bilodeau said, “Students need to learn how to assess the relevance and authority source, in academic and especially in their field of study” (2008, para.11). Therefore, Wikipedia should be restricted to use in academic parts.
In conclusion, Wikipedia should not be used in academic parts, especially papers, because of Wikipedia’s disadvantages which are inaccuracy of source of information, cumulative influence of academic papers, and unfiltered, out-of-date information.
Bilodeau, E. (2008, January 14). Weblog. Academic banning of Google and Wikipedia misguided. Coolweblog.com. Retrieved June 5, 2009, http://www.coolweblog.com/bilodeau/archieves/003743.html.
Byers, M. (2007, March 8). Controversy over use of Wikipedia in academic papers arrives at Smith. Smith College: Sophian. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://tinyutl.com/2dyt65.
Lengel, J. (2006, February 7). Authority. Teaching with Technology. Retrieved June 5,2009, from http://tinyurl.com/n5clt2.
Parry, D. (2008, February 11). Wikipedia and the new curriculum. Science Progress. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://www.scienceprogress.org/2008/02/wikipedia-and-the-new-curriculum.
Wolverton, J. (2007, January 22). Wikipedia Wisdom. Valley Vanguard. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://www.svsu.edu/clubs/vanguard/stories/1141.