If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.
86

A small sidenote to start things off: If I tell them "I read from Wikipedia that..." I get dismissed immediately, yet in online forums we use it like a Bible. Well, one of the reasons for that is that "I read in Wikipedia" is almost synonymous with "I have exactly 5 minutes worth of knowledge on the topic". The problem here really isn't the fact that you ...


61

I have on several occasions given students assignments (in math classes I was teaching) to contribute to Wikipedia, either for bonus credit or in lieu of a traditional final paper. Both I and the students were very happy with the results and with the fact that our efforts (which included fairly substantial involvement on my part, see below) resulted in the ...


45

No, but make sure you cite it and mention it, to avoid being accused of copying and pasting from Wikipedia. In any case, it is great that you have contributed to Wikipedia and I wish more people considered using pieces of their introductory chapters for Wikipedia. Just make sure that people know that you copied to, not from, Wikipedia. (I mean, the order is ...


44

Are there instances where citing Wikipedia is allowed? I'm not going to try to answer the question of "is allowed" or "isn't allowed" but instead I'm going to try and answer if citing Wikipedia is, in general, a good idea or not for research papers. Here's five points I can think of for and five points against. Good idea: If Wikipedia is your source, ...


40

You should never use something that isn't your own without a citation. "Copied down without a citation" is not an option. However, you should also not cite Wikipedia as an authoritative source; you should track down a source that is authoritative and use that. Why not use Wikipedia as a source? One reason for not using Wikipedia as an authoritative source ...


34

In my opinion a lot of the answers are too negative about wikipedia, at least when applied to the part of wikipedia that applies to mathematics (my academic field, and the field the OP asked about). I am a little surprised to hear people describe wikipedia as "unreliable", including links to university websites which say rather snootily to avoid it. This ...


32

It is not ethical, and is, per Wikipedia guidelines, a conflict of interest. If you have a personal connection to a topic or person, you are advised to refrain from editing those articles directly, from adding related advertising links, links to personal websites and similar, and to provide full disclosure of the connection if you comment about the ...


32

"According to some unknown guy on the Internet, I can say that according to Wikipedia..." No, you should avoid that. Wikipedia is open, so it can be changed by (almost) everyone and you have no guarantee that the given information there is correct. While many articles are very informative, it might be better to take the actual source (given on the Wikipedia ...


29

The primary issues with using Wikipedia for academic research are that it's a tertiary source, and there's no credibility/quality assurance. So, you should make sure that If the image contains intellectual content that requires citation, you should cite a primary source for that content. The image (including its factual/intellectual content) meets ...


28

I think the primary reason professors don't want students to use Wikipedia is because a lot of students only quote Wikipedia instead of actually researching a topic. The great thing about Wikipedia is it can give you a general idea about a topic and offer a starting point to dig in deeper. However, students can be lazy and instead of digging in ...


26

Being a Wikipedia contributor myself I would not like to see my students cite wikipedia, though I would not say that such citations should be forbidden. Here are a few reasons for this: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it does not contain original research and topics are not covered with great depth (for example in Wikipedia proofs for mathematical statements ...


26

The very fact that you need to ask this question, in a way, provides its own answer. One of the primary functions of academia is to teach the skills of research. There are two aspects to this, both critical; first, being able to find what work has been done by others and, second, to do new work yourself. Without the ability to effectively do the former ...


24

The other answers address the question of "once I post this on Wikipedia, can I include it in my thesis?" I would like to address another angle - I am not sure that you should be posting this on Wikipedia at all. Wikipedia has a policy banning the inclusion of original research. This means "research that is not exclusively based on a summary, review or ...


22

Should I still include a reference to indicate this image is not my own work YES If the idea is not yours, you need to reference it. Who should be given credit That is a harder question. Ideally, you should find the original author/source. Given a reasonable attempt to find the original author/source fails then reference the secondary/reproduction (i....


22

What you're referring to is an indirect source. In general, you should always work as hard as you can to find the original source. If that is not possible, all of the major style guides include a way to cite indirect sources. Note that you should not cite Wikipedia (see the "do not cite Wikipeida" note at the end of this answer). If an indirect citation is ...


21

According to Wikipedia's policies, a living person or their representatives (which would include a student, because the student could reasonably be seen in this way by others), are permitted but discouraged from editing that person's article. Obvious gaps or errors can be addressed, but since it is difficult to maintain a neutral point of view, the ...


20

I have never heard of any weight given to contributing to Wikipedia for any aspects of academic evaluation. I personally wouldn't attach any weight to it either, especially given that many articles have a long history of edits and figuring out exactly who contributed what can be difficult. If you want to include this on your CV or similar, I would mention ...


20

I think that Dirk’s answer is highly misleading and represents a popular, but false view of the website. Investigations have shown that Wikipedia contains as many or fewer statements of incorrect fact on scientific and technical matters as more traditional encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica (though "mistakes by omission" are more common on Wikipedia)....


18

First, I would try harder to get the primary source. Really. But, if that isn't possible (price, availability, etc.), you may have to do without. In that case, a few solutions: Find another secondary source, possibly one that is more “academically acceptable” than Wikipedia. For example, try to find a textbook on the topic that make mention of the fact you ...


18

A little googling turns up this list of reasons. I think you don’t need to agree with the author’s obvious agenda to take it seriously. A selective citation of a couple of points I personally think are most valid: You especially can’t rely on something when you don’t even know who wrote it.   The contributor with an agenda often ...


17

A good Wikipedia article must be supported with credible sources and references (see here and here). Wikipedia itself has a good read on citing Wikipedia. In case of scientific articles, the references are usually either published books and/or articles and papers from scientific journals and conferences. In either case, you should be able to follow them and ...


16

As an addendum to Lars's answer above, academics place a high value on peer-reviewed literature and professional activities (book chapters, conference proceedings, invited talks, professional workshops you've taught). Non-professional activities, such as being cited in the popular press and appearances on TV and radio shows are nice, but usually aren't big ...


15

Contributions to Wikipedia (or Stack Exchange) are best viewed as community service. Like other kinds of community service, significant and sustained contributions can have a positive effect on hiring and promotion decisions. The effect is not likely to be major, unless maybe your outreach efforts rival Neil DeGrasse Tyson's, but it won't be zero. Edit: I ...


15

I think the problem here is that you (a) don't feel like you should be citing the source of this, since you made it yourself but (b) think this will be viewed as plagiarism from Wiki (or, at least, laziness). It seems to me the best way to resolve this is to cite your source, and cite it as yourself via Wikipedia. A short note like (Wikipedia, Original ...


13

The festering elephant corpse in the room is Wikipedia internal politics. While you can go for quite a while reading and contributing to Wikipedia without running up against it, attempting to contribute to seemingly arbitrary topics can quickly embroil you in the seedy underbelly of Wikipedia, if you're not careful. While there are certain articles where ...


12

Scholarpedia has adapted many of the processes of a peer-reviewed journal. However, it is still a kind of encyclopedia and not a research journal at all. Note that I'm not making any kind of judgment or evaluation in the previous sentence: the main page of the site reads Welcome to Scholarpedia, the peer-reviewed open-access encyclopedia, where ...


12

Scientists not only need to discover new knowledge but also have to share the knowledge to others. For the former, we have things like universities, collaborate groups and journals to take charge. For the latter, we have various forms from teaching, developing and maintaining softwares to writing or translating books, writing and editing in Wikipedia, ...


12

Well, it's true that it is incomplete from a scientific point of view Why did you write anything after this sentence? This is probably a bit flippant. But seriously. It's "incomplete from a scientific point of view", according to your own words. Why do you need anything further to justify the fact that reddit is on a completely different level than ...


11

I think this question really has two parts, the ethical question and the practical question. First of, the ethical question. Let me say that I am surprised that you see the issue whether it is ethical to self-plug your work on Wikipedia as an entirely different issue than whether this is allowed by Wikipedia policy. Wikipedia is a private web site run on ...


11

Adding some details to the previous response, I'd like to stress that many Wikipedia images come from Wikimedia Commons, and Commons is a different project than Wikipedia. It is mainly a repository of free multimedia files "that makes available public domain and freely-licensed educational media >content to all, and that acts as a common repository for ...


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