Wikipedia is one of the largest free online encyclopedias in the world. It seems to appear for any subject typed into the task bar; however, teachers are constantly warning against using Wikipedia as a source for assignments. Have you ever wondered why that is? One reason that Wikipedia is so large is because it is generated by common people. Anyone can go onto the website and edit any of the information. Because of this, Wikipedia is not a reliable source in academic writing, for some of the information could be outlandishly wrong.
Wikipedia, conscious of the many accusations against it in the academic world, has tried to make the website more accurate by establishing monitors to check the information on each page and change it if it is inaccurate; however, the site is so large that these monitors can still miss information that is faulty.
If a student writing an academic paper were to use a Wikipedia site that held wrong information, that student would present the wrong facts in the paper, and thus get a lower grade. Having appropriate facts is very important in the academic world, especially in college and at work institutions. Wrong information in a paper will cause other people to consider that person inadequate and incapable of critical reading, an important aspect in the academic community.
Even if the facts on Wikipedia are true, a person who lists it as a source in the works cited section of a paper chances his or her credibility being greatly diminished. Credibility is proof that an author knows enough about the item being discussed in the paper; this can be established by a good works cited page. Wikipedia makes the author in question look, again, inadequate because the information on Wikipedia has such a bad reputation.
There are other websites that students and academic professionals alike can use for research. Any online article that is published on a well respected site known for specialization in certain topics, such as a university website, National Geographic, or popular newspaper sites may be acceptable for research findings and support. Sites that are more personal, like a blog or Wikipedia, cannot be trusted and should not be used.
Students should take care not to include information from Wikipedia while they are writing a paper on the subject. Academic writing is a great enterprise in the growing community, and should be kept respectable. Any paper that contains information from Wikipedia will not be taken seriously or respected because of the free license anybody has to alter the information presented. Wikipedia, though a good source of information for trivial knowledge, cannot be an acceptable source for any paper included in an academic field for this reason.