Tuesday, 16 June 2015 08:17

WHY WIKIPEDIA IS GREAT FOR DOING RESEARCH, BUT NOT THAT GREAT (AND NOT ENOUGH!)

By: 

 

In the course ‘Methodology for Urbanism’ we discuss why Wikipedia cannot be considered a reliable academic source. This is because Wikipedia is not “peer reviewed”. Peer reviewing means that to be accepted as authoritative, a text must be reviewed by a team of recognized specialists in that specific field of studies.

Wikipedia is indeed “peer reviewed” but the problem here is that the people contributing to Wikipedia are not backed by any scientific institution that guaranties their credentials (even though some of them are true authorities in their fields).

This generates all kinds of uncertainties.  But does this mean that we should avoid Wikipedia at all costs? Not at all.

Wikipedia is great to find FACTUAL INFORMATION that can be quickly TRIANGULATED. The kinds of verification and review mechanisms put in place by the Wikipedia Foundation are generally effective (but not always) and also generally result in reliable information (but again, not always).  The primary questions answered with factual information are WHAT?, WHERE?, HOW MANY? and WHO? (but again, this is disputable, as even these questions may result in different answers according to different sources and world views).

WIKIPEDIA cannot be used to gather ANALYTICAL INFORMATION, in which someone “analyses and interprets facts to form an opinion or come to a conclusion. The primary questions answered with analytical information are WHY? or HOW?”, according to the ODU Library Services Website.

WIKIPEDIA is a tremendous SOCIAL EXPERIENCE, where thousands of people contribute to a collective description and understanding of different issues. Besides, the comprehensiveness of the information contained in Wikipedia is impressive. The reality is, students make use of Wikipedia all the time.

However, we want to encourage you to go beyond Wikipedia and use other more authoritative sources.  If you want to be scientific, you must then go further and TRIANGULATE  your information. You also need to look for data in authoritative sources, which have been checked by people working in recognized education or research institutions. A good place to start is GOOGLE SCHOLAR. It will lead you to scientific papers published by responsible editors. You should also look into TU DELFT INSTITUTIONAL REPOSITORY of thesis and reports. And of course, you should look into the collection of SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS at the TU DELFT LIBRARY. These are BY FAR the best sources of reliable, relevant analytical information! 

Source: 
https://methodologyforurbanism.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/wikipedia/ 

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