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Introduction to Research: Wikipedia

This guide is a tutorial to help students learn the basics of library research


Instructors often tell students they can't use Wikipedia as a source, but sometimes don't give any reason why not. We hope the resources listed on this page will shed some light on the benefits and disadvantages of Wikipedia.  Your professor will decide if Wikipedia is acceptable.

Even if Wikipedia isn't used as a source, it may still be used to find other sources through the References, Further Reading, and External Links at the end of the articles.

What is wikipedia?

Anyone can write and edit the articles in Wikipedia.


Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia containing millions of articles. Anyone can write and edit the articles. This online encyclopedia is a collaborative, cooperative effort by volunteer writers to provide up-to-date information on any subject imaginable.


Do's and Dont's


  • use Wikipedia to become familiar with a topic or as a starting point for research
  • use Wikipedia to find more search terms or keywords for your research topic
  • maintain a level of skepticism when reading Wikipedia articles


  • cite Wikipedia articles in your bibliography for assignments or papers
  • treat information on Wikipedia as facts, especially when concerning legal or medical advice