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Where do I begin a project?
Your textbooks and class materials are the best place are most often the best place to start.
It is fine for you to begin a project by consulting with Wikipedia (and similar on-line sources of encyclopaedic-type information) but you should be aware that the Wikipedia entries are open-source and are not checked and verified in the same manner as other reference materials. And sometimes the entries are confusing (have a look at "Macedonia," for example).
And Wikipedia, should you use it, should only be a starting point.
It is also OK to start out your research by consulting reference works such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and lexica, glosaries, other general reference works, and the like, but this stage should only be a preliminary preparation for more focused and in-depth research work.
For a college research paper you should also have a look at other references, either traditional materials from the library, or on-line materials from sources like UMD E-Journal Locator, JSTOR, etc., or books and manuscripts On-Line. That is to say Wikipedia and the other reference-type sources listed should not be your only source of information. And you must add your own evaluations, comparisons, development, criticisms, critiques, and the like to any reference materials used. Simply cutting and pasting information from sources is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of either a required or extra-credit research paper.
Your paper should reflect a synthesis and evaluation of materials researched.
"...Sandra Ordonez, a spokeswoman [for Wikipedia], said in an e-mail interview...'Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It's usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia.'”
Inside Higher Education
26 January 2007
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For Tim Roufs' class papers it will be difficult to earn a grade of more than a "C-/D" using only Wikipedia and similar desk-reference sources for written work.
(Creating and Using a Wiki with Wikispaces-- Helen Mongan Rallis)
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See also Style guide -- Wikipedia
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Page URL: http:// www.d.umn.edu /cla/faculty/troufs/reference/Wikipedia.html
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