February 4, 2023
Source for Referencing

Students often get confused using Wikipedia as a source for referencing in academic writing. If you want to get basic information on something or get good background data on a particular topic, you are using Wikipedia the best way. While people in the academic community do not consider Wikipedia credible and reliable. If you are not careful, using Wikipedia for referencing can even fail your academic assignment. This article will explain why Wikipedia is not a reliable source for referencing in academic writing and how you can use it academically.

Wikipedia In Academic Writing:

There are many sources for referencing. However, Wikipedia is not usually considered a credible source for academic writing. Despite this, many students and professors increasingly use Wikipedia. It is because it is considered an easily accessible and good tertiary resource for data and information about any topic. Nonetheless, citing Wikipedia in referencing is not usually acceptable. Because of this, anyone can add or edit the information on Wikipedia. Although many mistakes are fixed immediately, many mistakes remain unnoticed on Wikipedia.

But, it is important to note that featured articles and good articles on Wikipedia could generally be considered more credible, professional and advanced than many other articles available on the internet on the same subject. The reason is that information in these articles is effectively edited and heavily reviewed many times. These articles go through many tests before getting confirmation of a featured article. These tests ensure that information in these articles can be used for deeper research.

It is the featured articles of Wikipedia that you can wholly trust as compared to normal articles available online. They usually contain the best information you can find on a topic. This makes them a reliable source.

Do’s And Don’t S While Using Wikipedia In Academic Writing:

Following points you should focus on and avoid while using Wikipedia as a source for referencing:

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  • Wikipedia is the best source to use as a starting point for academic research. However, make sure that you check the reliability of sources and pages.
  • It is important to remember that you have maintained some level of scepticism when you review an article on Wikipedia
  • Properly check the credibility of the information from the article you read on Wikipedia.


  • Do not cite Wikipedia in your academic papers.
  • Collect all the information from Wikipedia, which are in the form of facts, especially if you are writing academic tasks on law and medicine.

How Can Wikipedia Help You In Academic Writing? 

Wikipedia can be very helpful as a source for referencing in academic and graduate dissertation writing in many ways, such as:

  • It can help you collect in-depth background information on a specific topic. Wikipedia has straightforwardly covered almost every subject matter. It has detailed information on almost every subject.
  • While using the information you found on Wikipedia, you should always properly review the citation given in the article. This will make sure the credibility of the information you are taking. There is a section at the end of any Wikipedia article that contains links to all the resources used in that article. These sources range from online publications, books, articles, and newspapers. These things can make Wikipedia a useful source for referencing. They will also give you information about the credibility of the article.
  • Wikipedia can help you to create search terms. It could help you put together a list of terms for better information for your academic task. These terms can be used in the academic online library. To find these terms, you should review the whole article by looking for words or terms which you find relevant and useful.

Why Using Wikipedia Might Not Be A Good Source For Referencing:

Despite the great benefits mentioned above, there are also many disadvantages of using Wikipedia as a source for referencing:

The first issue is related to the authors. People who write on Wikipedia do not need to give any information which would show their professional expertise in a specific subject. This means that you cannot see Wikipedia as reliable spruce entirely.

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One of the five pillars of Wikipedia is that Wikipedia can be biased. There is very less time to edit a recently edited paper. That is why they might not be written from a neutral point of view.

Can You Directly Cite Wikipedia?

An article from Wikipedia answers the question, “Can you directly cite Wikipedia? “The article gives a very clear answer which that you should not use Wikipedia directly for citation in academic writing. It is because Wikipedia, like handbooks and encyclopaedia, is considered a tertiary source. A tertiary source of data gets information from other secondary and primary sources. There is a general rule that tertiary sources like handbooks, encyclopaedia and much other tertiary work cannot be used as a source for referencing. They only get background information on a topic. They don’t give proper analysis on a topic required for effective academic writing. For academic tasks, it is best to rely on secondary and primary resources for referencing and citation.

Nonetheless, if you can’t define a concept or give a background on a topic, it is fine to use tertiary resources. But, you need to check whether Wikipedia is allowed in your college. If your tutor forbids you to use Wikipedia, then you should not cite it in your academic task.


Wikipedia as a source for referencing is not credible. Although there is a complete review process on Wikipedia, still there is a huge chance you can get unreliable data from Wikipedia. That is why it is considered a tertiary source, and you should not use a tertiary source for referencing in academic research and writing. However, you can use Wikipedia for definition or background information if it is allowed by your university or tutor.

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