“Peer-reviewed Sources” vs. Wikipedia

Kindly note that this article is purely meant for awareness. The source is given in the end.

“Peer-reviewed” Sources vs. Wikipedia

“Peer-reviewed” sources and Wikipedia represent two opposing poles of what most instructors want to see in a research paper. Here’s an brief explanation of each.

First, the great majority of instructors do NOT want you to use Wikipedia as a resource for your paper. However, it is useful for some purposes. The most highly desired sources in many fields and for many papers are called “peer-reviewed” sources. Here’s a look at both.

First, Wikipedia is really helpful for checking out definitions and general ideas as a start. However, you have to treat the ideas from it like you would as if they were ideas from a wide variety of your own friends and family. Some of the articles are written by experts. Some are written by people who know nothing more than nonfactual opinions about a subject. And some people who consider themselves experts are not at all knowledgeable in many ways. This is exactly why professors do NOT like Wikipedia. They do not want to see it in any college research paper, even a rough draft. Instead, they prefer sources that, unlike Wikipedia, are “peer reviewed”.

The highest level of scholarly articles and books are called “peer-reviewed,” “refereed,” or “juried.” This means that a panel of scholars (from two to five or more, depending on the academic journal) have carefully examined the article or book and have determined that it is of high enough quality to publish. Wikipedia lets anyone upload a new article or change in it, and if others do check it and change it, there is no note about their level of scholarly excellence.

In many fields, specifically proven facts also are considered of highest value. But even “facts” have to be proven, first. If you can find a “fact” in at least three highly respected sources without the sources mentioning where the facts came from (or mentioning the same place), then likely what you have found is fact. Wikipedia does not always do this, either, because it lets anyone state “facts.”

So, Wikipedia might be a good place to start a search for information, but you can never trust the source of the information. And neither can your professors. So, use it if you want, but check out the info elsewhere–and use sources that professors consider more accurate.

Source: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~jewel001/CollegeWriting/RESEARCH/UsingSources.htm#Peer-reviewed Sources vs. Wikipedia



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