Monday, December 10, 2007
Wikipedia etc. etc.
Oh for heaven's sake why shouldn't a student use Wikipedia as a study tool? I completely agree that it shouldn't itself be cited as a reference, being mostly derivative, but as a first port of call, as a springboard for deeper enquiry it is excellent! The quality of content is uneven, but it doesn't take an expert eye to detect shabby scholarship. Some of the historical and theological pages are superbe and the array of cross references and links make it possible to find inroads into a subject that may have previously seemed impregnable. If anything, Wikipedia encourages the enquiring mind. I have used it many times for an overview on an unfamiliar topic. By judiciously noting down cited works and authors, I have equipped myself with enough material to go to the university library and start looking in depth at the subject. Wikipedia can be an enormous timesaver. For the naive there are warnings about impartiality and bias issues, so forewarned is forearmed. Used well it is a valuable tool, so I say to the academic nay-sayers " Get out of your ivory towers and show students how to use it properly!"