Ben W.

asked • 01/31/13

Is wikipedia now a reliable source to use for academic papers?

I was wondering if I can use wikipedia as a source now that it's so big.

14 Answers By Expert Tutors


Sheri F. answered • 01/31/13

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I would just like to add that bias in Wikipedia articles is not a negative point against it.

The fact is that all history (and other types of articles) is biased. It is impossible for anyone to write a history that is unbiased. Nobody can include every possible detail in what he is writing; there must always be decisions made about what to include and what to leave out. That creates bias, no matter how hard the author may try to avoid being biased. Even a first-hand report cannot be unbiased, for the same reason.

As long as the reader is aware that what he is reading is biased, this is usually not a serious problem. What is a serious problem is if a person ever believes that he is reading an unbiased history.



Sheri F.

You are completely correct. I emphasized the bias because the student who posted the question might not have been aware, and it did not occur to me to also mention that all sources have a bias. I wanted to stress the bias to make the original poster more open to other sources. Unfortunately, many high school and college students are not taught to read critically and analyze both the source and the argument. I even mentioned at the end that the sources cited at the end of the wikipedia article are good to use, so I am not anti-wikipedia. 
This link ( shows why we have to be extra critical about sources on the internet. Images taken by journalists in places such as Syria and Iraq, which are legitimate primary sources, are being appropriated as images in Gaza. It seems legitimate, but the images are recycled. There are atrocities occurring there and it is right to raise awareness about the problem, but the images are not accurate. 


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