Many students assume that the online, free encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a valid, authoritative and useful reference source for their scholarly work as a student at NVCC. In this assignment, we will be examining just how authoritative (and stable) Wikipedia (aka wiki) is. First, you will examine a specific entry from wiki and check for changes that have occurred over a period of six months, then you will compare the information from the wiki entry with the information from an established reference source such as the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB).
Since you may have never really looked carefully at a wiki entry, I want you to look at my Explanation of Using Wikipedia before you start this paper assignment.
- For your comparison of a wiki entry with the same entry in EB, you should choose a wiki research term that is in some way relevant to the material that you have covered in your course, and that term must be clear, focused and doable. For example, “World War II” or “The Roman Empire” or “communism” or Hitler or Stalin or Julius Caesar are not acceptable terms. You simply are not going to be able to expertly compare 12 pages of wiki material on, for example, World War I, with the twelve pages of material in EB.
- Your wiki entry must be approved by your professor. We do not accept terms that are primarily U.S. history. If the course is a world history course, then your professor might also rule out topics dealing with Western Europe.
- You have a textbook with hundreds of pages of history that you should use to help you decide on a term–check the book’s index. Be sure that your term also appears in Encyclopedia Britannica.
- You must email your wiki research choice to your instructor for approval at least two days before the assignment is due.
- You are required to check how your selected wiki entry changed (or did not change) over a period of at least six months, but you can look back at least one year, up to the present date. You can do that by clicking on the “history” tab of your article. (See theExplanation of Using Wikipedia for further information on how to do this.)
- You must compare the contents of the wiki article with the same article in Encyclopedia Britannica (See How to Access Britannica). If you are unable to access Britannica, please let me know, and I will suggest an alternative reference source. If you are not a registered NVCC student, you may have trouble accessing Encyclopedia Britannica, please contact your instructor (and don’t wait until the night before the assignment is due).
- Your analysis paper should be one or two pages, double-spaced, one-inch margins, font size 10 or 12–I will allow the paper to reach two pages in length. Your paper should assess the overall stability and authoritative nature of the wiki entry for your research term. Consider such questions (This is not an exhaustive list.):
- What changed in the wiki information?
- Why did the entry change?
- Were any changes the result of sound, scholarly research?
- Do we have any idea of the credentials of the people who created the Wikipedia information, or who made the changes?
- How does the wiki information compare favorably or unfavorably with the information from the other reference sources?.
- With the permission of your instructor, instead of using EB, you may compare your wiki entry with the equivalent wiki entry in a foreign language, for example, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beslan_school_hostage_crisis and ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Террористический_акт_в_Беслане.
Wikipedia: good or bad? That is partly what you are answering in this assignment, but I would also like to point out that a wiki article is often an excellent starting point (not the end point) for research on a topic or a quick source of general information. For example, I often check wiki if I am looking for the birth or death date dates of a historical figure. A wiki article is especially valuable when it includes footnotes, citations of sources and suggested sources of further information (often in the form of external links). Finally, wiki articles can be extremely useful on topics of relatively newer currency. For example, in my (History of Russia II) course, I ask that students check the entry for the Beslan School Hostage crisis. This is an exceptional article–although its quality varies a bit from month to month. To make that kind of judgment about an article, it helps if you know something of the subject to begin with, but you can also examine the details of the article’s discussion and whether there are citations for the information.
This is a 1 page paper. double spaced