Submitted by codenamendgo t3_11dgcvm in LifeProTips

The first thing I learned about scholarly research in college is that you never cite Wikipedia as a source. However, you do go to the resources at the bottom of the page and start your research there. For a majority of Wikipedia topics you will find scholarly resources under the resources tab. From there, you use those scholarly resources to find more resources in their work's cited until you find the information you're looking for. Scholarly research is not as hard or scary as it sounds, I promise!



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radieck t1_ja8optv wrote

Scholarly work should not use Wikipedia as a source but the sources wiki uses can be a great starting point. I 100% agree.

I used to tell my students that Wikipedia is great for general information since the site has clamped down on the whole editing process, and made it much more difficult to add misinformation without sources.

For non-scholarly work, Wikipedia is amazing. It’s the end all, be all of all arguments and general information about organizations and people. I think because schools say you can’t cite it, many people don’t trust Wikipedia. I’d trust it over most news sites (except AP and Reuters).


thatgoddamnedcyclist t1_ja9f0i4 wrote

You should never cite encyclopedias because it never is original work and that the requirements for peer revision is not adequate to be made into a source itself.

But if you just want to know something, they are all great.


popejubal t1_jaau0ym wrote

Very good explanation.

Wikipedia is not where you should stop looking but it’s a fantastic place to start looking.


laplongejr t1_jabuo6v wrote

It's also wonderful for less serious works, like history of some video games, where the original sources may not even exist anymore besides the latest snapshot of the Web Archive and their only use is on Wikipedia. There's a probable 0% chance that you would find an equivalent with a regular web search.

Source : I'm the guy who wasted 3h of their life trying to find a non-primary source about Hypixel's four Guinness Records to know what granted them the "most games on a Minecraft server" record. Ended making an account on the Guinness to access their free search engine and it turned out the authoritary source is incomplete from the start. I assumed somebody better would find a good alternative, but the "free registration required" link and the technically unsourced warning about the missing info still stands there years later.

It's crazy how hard it is to comply with *usually* sensible Wikipedia rules when there's no third-party media coverage of a fact. ^(If you want to help with wikipedia, don't fear asking in the talk page! It's there for a reason!)


QueasyAd1142 t1_jabnlha wrote

I always make a little contribution when they ask. It’s kind of like PBS but for information, I use them all the time and I feel less guilty if I contribute. I’m not a scholar or anything, just a regular old lady.


stealthdawg t1_ja8z01h wrote

You're not wrong...

they teach this in like 9th grade


44problems t1_ja92jh6 wrote

I'm old enough to remember when teachers said this about print encyclopedias. Look at the works cited, don't cite the article.


megamagex t1_ja90hao wrote

Glad teachers have caught on. When I was in school they just blanket banned Wikipedia and had no idea there even were sources in the articles. Granted that was 20 years ago lol


stealthdawg t1_ja95mio wrote

I mean, same thing now as a 'blanket ban.'

Wikipedia isn't a valid source, but you didn't need permission to follow the citations


MinnieShoof t1_jac21w9 wrote

... nobody's "caught on." Wikipedia is still not valid. If you have to be told that going to the sources that the wiki cites is a completely different kettle... well, I'd hate to read one of your papers.


Deezus1229 t1_jaa12o6 wrote

>they teach this in like 9th grade

Correction, they're SUPPOSED to teach this in 9th grade. However, I found out the hard way when I cited Wikipedia in my first college-level essay and my professor failed that entire paper because of it.

I took honors and AP-level English in high school, not once did they ever dock points or correct us for citing Wikipedia. Some schools just suck.


codenamendgo OP t1_jaacqau wrote

As some people also stated, I definitely wasn't taught this in 9th grade. But I mean it's been a few years since high school. Even my community college didn't really teach about using scholarly sources.


ACorania t1_ja8s11i wrote

I would even suggest reading the wikipedia article as a good place to start. It gives you an overview of the topic, lets you formulate questions you might have and want to research into (note them down), and then start with their sources but don't feel constrained by them.


laplongejr t1_jabv46l wrote

Also, think about checking the Talk Page. If there are issues with the current page (downplaying something, some important missing stuff), somebody before probably noticed it.
In particular, that's the way you can request an edit on a protected page if you notice a glaring source issue. No need to register, your public IP is a good enough identifer to use the talk page.


ReginaBicman t1_jac526f wrote

Same. Like I’m a sociology major doing online classes meaning no professor to really explain the work. Alot of theories, especially when it crosses over with philosophy, I immediately go DIRECTLY to wiki or non academic sources and read it so I can go ‘oh okay, now I got what Weber meant when he said that’ and then I go to the academic papers and sources now that I understand what they’re talking about.


MuteSecurityO t1_ja984bv wrote

Also make sure the source that’s quoted is the original. I’ve had it where the source of wiki was quoting from another source. Had to track down the original and found that the source for wiki was a curated snippet of the original.

Primary sources people!


codenamendgo OP t1_jaad82u wrote

This! Even as a history major this was majorly overlooked. It wasn't until I watched a seminar for my internship that I found out how many primary sources are buried and just cited as secondary sources instead. It definitely makes research for future historians, as well as people casually researching, very confusing.


Mindraker t1_jac0cw8 wrote

Primary vs secondary sources

Many people don't understand these differences.


DrRomeoChaire t1_ja8jadw wrote

Don’t you mean ‘tell ChatGPT to cite the Wikipedia article sources when it writes your paper’? /s


666ygolonhcet t1_jaa74m3 wrote

I taught middle school research and taught the kids to NEVER cite Wikipedia, but go down to the bottom to look for articles to read and use.


codenamendgo OP t1_jaadgux wrote

Yeah, I learned young about how "unreliable" Wikipedia was. It took me until college though to learn the sources under the info were legit and even considered scholarly.


brickmaster32000 t1_jaarulq wrote

The idea of "legit" or "reliable" really shows a misunderstanding of what a source is supposed to be. A source isn't meant to be "I believe this to be correct and this person agrees with me so you should believe me too". A source should be actual data. That way people can look at the data and determine if it actually supports the claims you make.


ThePerfectEmployee t1_jaab1g3 wrote

Any college that doesn't have classes for students to be taught how to research and cite sources is pretty poor.


codenamendgo OP t1_jaabz58 wrote

I was in the history department so research was kinda a big deal to us. However, other departments couldn't care less. I took a law class for my minor and the professor said he didn't care what we used for citations as long as at least one of them was from his own writings (which he so graciously provided and never bragged about 🙄). Junior and Senior level students were citing Wikipedia and random YouTube videos with absolutely no sources. Blew my mind.

I also had to teach my roommate how to find primary sources because she was a social work major and they just never thought to teach that to them.


CouldCareLessWatcher t1_jaac42l wrote

❗ It's couldn't care less, not could care less.

^(I'm a bot and this action was performed automatically.)


winterneuro t1_ja9gyiy wrote

Professor Here. This is a 100% correct LPT.

Studies are showing wikipedia is "as good" as an old-school encyclopedia for learning about stuff. But don't cite it. As stated, get the cites that are cited by the Wiki.


laplongejr t1_jabzadq wrote

> Studies are showing wikipedia is "as good" as an old-school encyclopedia for learning about stuff.

For those who wonder how is it possible :
I don't have the source (ironic), but while the Britannica does have "less published errors" than Wikipedia, those errors stay for years while on Wikipedia they get fixed fast.
So while an error is more likely to be published on Wikipedia, when checking both at some instant T, it is roughly equally likely for both that the statement will be an error.

> But don't cite it. As stated, get the cites that are cited by the Wiki.

Goes also about old-school encyclopedia, I think?


Gorf_the_Magnificent t1_ja9hic7 wrote

This also helps weed out unsourced nonsense that occasionally worms its way into Wikipedia.

And from there, it often take a short hop into r/TodayILearned.


bumgrub t1_ja9nqgc wrote

Make sure you read the sources though, don't just take Wikipedia at it's word as useful as it is.


ClerrBerr t1_jaahi0t wrote

For more helpful tips, talk to a librarian! They will help you find the information you need, and also help you cite your sources.


dynorphin t1_jaamcbj wrote

ULPT: only cite sources that give 404 errors.


laplongejr t1_jabzjzh wrote

There's a reason wikipedia sources the Wayback Machine.


keepthetips t1_ja8ems7 wrote

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ReasonableTeam2228 t1_jaa94ek wrote

That's really helpful advice! It's important to make sure that the sources you are using are reliable and credible. It's also good to be aware of the resources available and how to use them. Thanks for sharing!


teddyspaghetti t1_jaait9c wrote

Surprised you didn't learn this in middle school... You would get laughed at for using it I'm High School, and outright Failed in College.


Fheredin t1_jaasjtr wrote

For being user-editable, Wikipedia these days is meticulously mainstream and almost never actually does opposition opinions justice.


laplongejr t1_jabzncv wrote

Do you have examples of that?

> Indicate the relative prominence of opposing views.
Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view. For example, to state that "According to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust was a program of extermination of the Jewish people in Germany, but David Irving disputes this analysis" would be to give apparent parity between the supermajority view and a tiny minority view by assigning each to a single activist in the field.


IgnitableVirus6 t1_jab0tar wrote

A lot of what I have learned about mycology and chemistry came from wiki. (Learning on my own time)


MinnieShoof t1_jac2b2y wrote

Ugh. This is such soon-to-be-obsolete advice I'm surprised it isn't curdled. The newest wave professors are having to fight back against is ChatGPT written papers.


jellyfish125 t1_jac9979 wrote

I use Wikipedia mostly to solve arguments, but also to just read some quick facts about something, and then I further research those cool facts.

I really hate that a lot of schools block Wikipedia for "not being a good source" because I legit don't know too many college students who don't use it at the very least as a starting point for research.


CanUHearMeNau t1_jaa8xnx wrote

Wikipedia is great but controlled by the government.


laplongejr t1_jac2oxh wrote

What? It's the flagship of a donation-funded organisation. WTF has "the government" (which one? the Swiss?) to do with that?


AngryBeaver119 t1_jaa9248 wrote

What's the difference? We all know you didn't find the primary source yourself. Just cite the exact revision of the Wikipedia article (they store them forever)


laplongejr t1_jabzivu wrote

The whole point of sourcing is providing the primary source. A link to an online list of sources is basically offloading the work.


dontcareitsonlyreddi t1_ja9ldgi wrote

I’ll just do the Ava max/Olivia Rodrigo methods.

I’ll take the article and claim it as my own, pretended that I didn’t know what stealing was and claim innocence, then deflect all criticism by saying I’m a victim of racism and/or racism. Then finally give credit to the original artists, and say I’m a good person even though I’m not.


ChrisGeritol t1_ja8hqze wrote

You're saying don't cite a source that can easily be manipulated to show false information? Imagine that!