Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wikipedia Research (no, really...)

I saw a very interesting article in the online journal First Monday concerning the use of Wikipedia by college students:

The article

As you may have heard, Wikipedia bashing is a very popular sport among librarians and academics at large. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the authority of the people writing entries to the chageable nature of the information to, well, fill in the blank - there are approximately as many reasons as mouths to voice them. The most interesting thing about this new study is that, from this librarian's perspective, most people are using Wikipedia just the way that we would advise them to use any general encyclopedia - as a starting point for research and to get a general overview of a topic before launching into more in-depth research. OMG - they really WERE listening...

It is also interesting to note that while 95% of college students reported using Google as a tool in their research past what they found in Wikipedia, 93% report using library databases. Now, anyone with any sense knows that folks will use Google, and that wasn't the purpose of this research. It was, however, very encouraging that students are reporting that they are using library resources only slightly less frequently than Google.

If you have an interest in how students conduct research, I really recommend that you read this article.

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