Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anyone who wishes to contribute. Many people are constantly editing Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour. For more information, see About Wikipedia.
Anyone with access to the internet can edit almost every page, and this is both the strength and the weakness of the site:
- Because there are so many people willing to freely give their time and expertise to Wikipedia, the content can be an excellent introduction to a topic, well-referenced, and mistakes are often corrected quickly.
- However, because edits can be made anonymously, we cannot know whether the author is an expert on the subject or whether they have a particular agenda to push.
Wikipedia is not considered to be a suitably authoritative source of information for academic study.
It is not a good idea to reference Wikipedia in your assignments. If you choose to use Wikipedia as a starting point for your topic, however, the article will introduce you to the key vocabulary for the topic which will be useful for further searching in Findit@Bham.ac.uk and bibliographic databases.
For guidance on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, see Evaluating Wikipedia article quality.