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The Introduction section of a paper is supposed to broadly introduce the topic. What better beginning of a broad chapter than a part of the Wikipedia summary paragraph on the topic? Because it is free to edit worldwide, statistically everything is said better than some guy can say it.

I see the following options:

  • copy and reword
  • copy and cite
  • copy and reword badly i.e. explain in my own terms
  • study the topic for years, live healthy, then copy and reword into better form
  • something else

Which one is recommended?

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    I don't know about your field or the kinds of papers you have in mind, but the vast, vast majority of papers in fields of my interest (probably over 99.9%) are way too specialized to be usefully introduced by any presently written Wikipedia article. For example, Locally rich compact sets and Density rate of a set, application to rectifiability results for measurable jets. – Dave L Renfro Apr 17 at 8:51
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    The answer is no, no, no, no, yes. If you write an article about a Wikipedia topic, then a Wikipedia introduction is appropriate. But then, there is no point of writing the article, because it exists. If you write the article, it is because the article that you want written does not exist, and neither does the intro. About "studying the topic for years": you are writing an article about a topic you haven't already studied? Because, this work should have been done in preparation to develop your knowledge. When writing the section, you can touch your knowledge up, of course. – Captain Emacs Apr 17 at 9:20
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    Is this for a paper in an undergraduate course? – Buffy Apr 17 at 10:47
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    @Buffy: (+1) For some reason I didn't even think of this possibility. In fact, if this is the case, then my examples might seem a bit sardonic. – Dave L Renfro Apr 17 at 11:31
  • Can you explain what you mean by "paper"? – user111388 Apr 17 at 15:49
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You should write your own introduction so it represents what you are going to cover in your essay / report / thesis.

Just taking an introduction and referencing it to avoid plagiarism, will not usually represent your activity very well.

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