I was interested to read Jenny Luca’s blogpost about Wikipedia’s citation advice and help.  I hadn’t realised that Wikipedia had the facility to create citations for its articles that users can cut and paste into their bibliographies.  That feature is available on other online sources – two that we subscribe to, World Book online and Ebsco’s ANZRC, have this facility and I regularly encourage our students to take advantage of it.

However, I must admit that their Important Notice that appears at the start of the citation advice for every article made me smile:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most educators and professionals do not consider it appropriate to use tertiary sources such as encyclopedias as a sole source for any information — citing an encyclopedia as an important reference in footnotes or bibliographies may result in censure or a failing grade. Wikipedia articles should be used for background information, as a reference for correct terminology and search terms, and as a starting point for further research.

As with any community-built reference, there is a possibility for error in Wikipedia’s content — please check your facts against multiple sources and read our disclaimers for more information.

Not that this is not good advice, no it most certainly is and I’m sure teachers everywhere say something similar to their students (over and over and over!) -that’s not what made me smile.  What I think is amusing is the likelihood that if we point this information out to our students they may actually believe it…because it is in Wikipedia!!

By the way, Harvard style is not one of the several citation styles given by the Wikipedia citation tool, however it seems that the APA style (American Psychological Association)  is based on Harvard.


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