Is Wikipedia a reliable source for academic research?

Most people use Wikipedia but Is Wikipedia a reliable source of information? Is Wikipedia Reliable? Wikipedia is one of the most common websites with billions of visits. Many people easily access Wikipedia and obtain information from the site and it has become one of the biggest sources of information worldwide. As a source of information, no website provides more information to humans globally as does Wikipedia. Whenever someone is searching for information about almost anything, Wikipedia will more often than not appear among the top searches on the search engines.




This is a pertinent question that is of particular importance to students and researchers globally. With the internet having become the main source of accessing information, and WIKIPEDIA being among the leading, if not the leading, sources of information, it is only natural that the answer to this question was bound to come up at some point in time.


Why do Schools and Professors caution against using WIKIPEDIA?

Why do professors refuse to acknowledge Wikipedia as an academic source?

The reason for professors and schools refusing to acknowledge Wikipedia as a source lies in the working mechanism of the website and how this online encyclopedia functions.

ANYONE can edit Wikipedia at any time. This means that the content on Wikipedia is often unverified and hence cannot be relied upon.


Can Anyone Edit Wikipedia?

Yes. Anyone can edit Wikipedia.

The fact that anyone can log in to Wikipedia and make changes to the information available there has seen many cases of vandalism where people edit reliable information and twist it for the fun of it or for other purposes such as conspiracy theories or just hitting back at someone or a group of people.


Sources that can be used for academic research

There is a threshold that must be met before sources can be used for academic research. In most cases, primary sources such as witness accounts, and other first-hand information sources are considered reliable sources and can be used for academic purposes. However, for second-hand information, the information must meet a specific threshold before it can be used for academic research. Before a source can be used for academic research it needs to come from either first-hand sources or it should come from reputable sources. Scholarly articles and journals are the most recognized forms that are easily accepted for research and academic purposes. The reason for this is that the people who write these articles are usually doing so to enrich the academic arena, to inform, and to advance their academic credentials. Their pieces are reviewed by independent peers in their industry hence making them very reliable sources of information.


Why Wikipedia is prohibited by professors

Most professors will prohibit the use of Wikipedia as a source as a matter of principle. The people who write and edit most of the information on the site are not recognizable, or reputable and the information is not peer-reviewed where it can be verified and tested before it can be published.


Can you use Wikipedia for research?

Contrary to what the article claims and popular opinion, Wikipedia is an excellent source of information. However, it is useful in the initial stages of research.  It can be used to point a student or researcher towards the right sources of information. Therefore, Wikipedia is not entirely useless in terms of academic research. Even though most people will not admit to using the site for information, many people have used it to find valuable information that helped them complete their research or advanced their knowledge in many fields.