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To Wikipedia or Not to Wikipedia

wikipedia.jpgWhether to use Wikipedia or not use Wikipedia depends on what you need and how you are going to use the information you find.

If you need an authoritative scholarly resource for your research paper, Wikipedia is not your best choice. Wikipedia has limitations; its articles are written by anonymous authors, they can be edited by anyone, and the information is largely unreviewed, unregulated and, sometimes, inaccurate.

The University Libraries license authoritative general and specialized online encyclopedias for use by the Drexel community, including Britannica Online (academic edition), AccessScience (McGraw-Hill’s Encyclopedia of Science & Technology Online), Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, POLYMERSnetBASE, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science, Grove Dictionary of Art and the Wiley Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. These sources do provide scholarly, authoritative and reliable information. They are all free to Drexel students, faculty, and staff and are not available freely on the Internet.

Likewise, scholarly research articles can be found using electronic databases available from the library's web site. Several databases such as Expanded Academic, Proquest Research Library, and Ei Compendex/INSPEC offer access to peer reviewed journal articles. Major subject based electronic databases are available from: http://www.library.drexel.edu/resources/databasesbysubject.html.

Use the library’s guide, 'Is this a Scholarly publication?,' at http://www.library.drexel.edu/resources/tutorials/scholpubs.html to determine whether the article you found fits the definition of a scholarly publication or not.

On the other hand, Wikipedia can often provide a good starting point. In addition to general background information and context, it can quickly provide appropriate keywords that you can use while searching for scholarly information through databases available from the library's web site.

The library staff is happy to answer questions about finding the best possible source. Please contact the library staff or email or IM your questions by going to:
http://www.library.drexel.edu/about/askaquestion.html

Jane Bryan, Director of Libraries
Jay Bhatt, Engineering Librarian

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