I can spend hours on Wikipedia. It’s an amazing website that offers informative articles on everything I would ever want to learn. I have become an “expert” in so many topics because of Wikipedia and its easy usability. It’s truly a great resource for people of all ages. It offers over 35 million articles in 288 different languages. You should really begin your research with Wikipedia.
It’s free and easily accessible, so why not?
However, due to the collaborative nature of Wikipedia, many people think Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source as its articles can easily be edited by anyone.
It is true that the Wikipedia application allows anyone with internet access to edit an article, but what people don’t realize, is that it isn’t an easy process, and citations are needed for every single edit. There is also a mini discussion forum for every single page of Wikipedia, where even the slightest recent changes of an article are discussed intelligently and diligently.
Here are the top five reasons why you should begin your research with Wikipedia:
- Simple English – Wikipedia articles can be translated in over 288 different languages. My personal favourite language option is “Simple English”. The Simple English option makes long articles short and concise. It’s perfect for when I don’t want to read a long article on something and just want the basic idea. This option is really good for quick research and to get the basic idea of something. It’s also a great option for students or readers who are having trouble understanding something written complicatedly, since it’s written so simply; it’s perfect for complicated scientific and mathematics concepts.
- Table of Contents – Wikipedia provides a very informative and detailed table of contents on each article which helps find specific information on something quickly. For instance, they cover the main concepts and use helpful headings like: Definition, Examples etc.
- Pictures – The majority of Wikipedia articles have pictures in them that add to the informative content in the articles. I find pictures on Wikipedia very beneficial, because in google images they don’t show something specifically related to the topic, it’s based on random guesswork by Google’s algorithm; but on Wikipedia, the pictures are uploaded for the purpose of explaining the content in the article; they are more helpful and legitimate.
- Footnotes – Wikipedia is a great source to start professional research for any article, because on the bottom of each page, everything that is written is cited by professional and academic sources. I always start my research from Wikipedia. These are especially helpful to me whenever I have a hard time finding up to date “academic” sources on something.
Wikipedia’s footnotes are very beneficial and provide easy linking to online academic sources. Majority of Wikipedia articles have information from professional academic journals that are hard to get access to for free.
Since most academic journals are not free and require a paid subscription, Wikipedia‘s my first choice on finding information on something and ideas for where to research.
- Wikipedia allows for collaborative editing – Because Wikipedia is a global encyclopaedia, it offers opportunities to gain insight on an article in a global sense. People from all over the world write articles.It’s really interesting to see forums of every article, where academic enthusiasts around the world provide justifications and sources for every point they added. Many professional academics use and edit Wikipedia.There was a video out last year that showed some of the types of people who are Wikipedia contributors. Here is a link to it: Meet some of the women who contribute to Wikipedia. Most of them were very passionate and successful in their fields. Wikipedia is the academic playground for some.
Wikipedia allows for multiple people to edit an article and discuss what they have changed in the article. Some say Wikipedia is more updated than other print encyclopaedias. Wikipedia allows for breakthrough research to reach readers quickly.
Wikipedia is truly an amazing source to gain firsthand information and grab basic ideas for anything in the world. Although, some skeptics think it can contain unreliable sources; but Wikipedia does allow a platform for people to discuss the changes they have made and provide sufficient citations for the information they have provided.
It’s a great starting point for research and offers multiple opportunities to get more in depth research on something, through its footnotes and article discussions, as well as the table of contents.
I would recommend anyone to start their research from Wikipedia, and then dwell into more complicated sources after understanding what they are researching in a broad sense. Wikipedia should be your first choice.