Saturday, February 24, 2007

Is Wikipedia destroying college students' research?

The New York Times reports (reg. req.) that Middlebury college's history department has banned wikipedia in student papers.

The article raises the important point that students too often turn to the internet uncritically for information. It seems to me however, that bans are too extreme. Isn't the point to teach students to be able to critically analyze material they find on the web?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a critical and discerning researcher, skills I learned here at UWO. However, I have used Wikipedia for basic information that was of personal interest. I have never used that source to construct or support an argument in any paper.

Perhaps if the department has to go the extreme of officially banning Wikipedia, they should first examine their teaching effectiveness. No one had to ban Wikipedia for me to understand that it is not a credible source for an academic essay.

Gonensei said...

Wikipedia is a great source... for other sources.

If you want some general info as a starting point and some citations for sources that are more appropriate, Wikipedia is great.

I would never list Wikipedia as a source anyway. I use it as more of an index to find other articles. (And no, I don't use only Wikipedia-cited articles either.)

But here's another micro-rant:
I think that students would have a lot better time reading scholarly articles if the writing wasn't so dry. And I'm not talking about being unprofessional, or un-academic. On rare occasions I have had the pleasure of reading articles that were not only academic and professional, but also interesting and able to hold the reader's attention throughout. It can be done.

Anonymous said...

I use Wikipedia when I am doing research outside my field, but only as a starting point. I always avoid using any online sources even if they are credible. The information is just too transient.