Wikipedia: friend or foe?

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Wikipedia: friend or foe? is a 2009 journal article by K. West, J. Williamson and published in Reference Services Review.

[edit] Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to report on a research study that entailed the rigorous evaluation of the quality of a large multidisciplinary sample of Wikipedia articles. The objective of the paper is to assess whether Wikipedia can be used and recommended as a credible reference or information tool. Design/methodology/approach - The 106 randomly generated Wikipedia articles are analyzed and evaluated on specific criteria (completeness, accuracy, presentation, objectivity, and overall quality). Articles are reviewed from a broad range of subject areas: arts, popular culture, entertainment, geography, history, science, technology, people, entities, and politics. Findings - The findings indicate that overall the articles are objective, clearly presented, reasonably accurate, and complete, although some are poorly written, contain unsubstantiated information, and/or provide shallow coverage of a topic. Research limitations/implications - Further research on evaluating Wikipedia entries should include reviewing outward links to more accurately assess overall quality. Practical implications - Wikipedia has a role as a reference and instruction tool. Originality/value - This paper provides empirical data on a large number of articles on a wide range of disciplines in Wikipedia, supporting its use as an acceptable encyclopedia.

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