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 Using Wikipedia
and other Standard Reference Works
see also information on ChatGPT and other AI-content Generators

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.

For more in-depth information search on JSTOR , have a look at books and manuscripts On-Line, and have a look at the individual items in the class A-Z Index:


to Wikipedia


Citations and Citing Wikipedia -- Wikipedia

Style guide -- Wikipedia

Create you own Wiki: <>
(Creating and Using a Wiki with Wikispaces-- Helen Mongan Rallis)

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General Citations Information and Citing Wikipedia


Full information for citing on-line sources is often provided by the sources themselves, including Wikipedia, which has extensive information at

Wikipedia: Citing Wikipedia



See also Style guide -- Wikipedia


In citing their own materials Wikipedia recommends . . .

FOR MLA style

Citation in MLA style, as recommended by the Modern Language Association:

  • "Plagiarism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . 22 Jul 2004, 10:55 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 Aug 2004 <>.

Note that MLA style calls for both the date of publication (or its latest update) and the date on which the information was retrieved. According to the most recent MLA booklet, there is now information required about any foundation involved. Also note that many schools/institutions slightly change the syntax. Another example:

  • "Plagiarism." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia . 22 July 2004 <>.

Be sure to double check the exact syntax your institution requires.

For citation of Wikipedia as a site, use:

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FOR APA style

Citation in APA style, as recommended by the American Psychological Association: [1]

  • Plagiarism. (2004, July 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . Retrieved August 10, 2004, from

Note that in APA 5th Edition Style, the following rules apply for the reference:

  • For reference books, which includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, and glossaries, the book title is preceded by the word In. It is not italicized, but the book title following it is.

  • The book title appears in sentence case. You capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns.

  • The URL must go to the exact page that you reference.

  • No punctuation follows the URL.

  • The term or article title appears in the author position. Use sentence case for multiple-word terms or titles, where you capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns.

The proper in-text citation is ("Plagiarism," 2006) for a paraphrased passage or ("Plagiarism," 2006, para. #) if you directly quote the material. Note that para. # represents the paragraph number in the page where the information appears. If there are multiple headings on the page, it is also acceptable to place the subheading and then a paragraph number within that heading.

For example, proper in-text citation for a direct quote of less than 40 words is:

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  • Plagiarism is the use of another person's work (this could be his or her words, products or ideas) for personal advantage, without proper acknowledgement of the original work" ("Plagiarism," 2006, "Definition," para. 1).

If the quoted material is more than 40 words, use the block quote format instead.

As another example, the proper in-text citation for a paraphrased passage is:

Plagiarism is stealing the works of others ("Plagiarism," 2006).

APA Style requires that you provide a separate reference entry for each term you are citing in your paper because 1) you must provide a URL for each term that goes directly to the term, and 2) you must provide the publication date for each term separately. However, if you are dicussing the "online encyclopedia" itself, not a term in the encyclopedia, you might need to reference the site itself. The proper citation of Wikipedia, the site, as referenced in APA 5th Edition Style is:

  • Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia . (2006, February 13). FL: Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved February 13, 2006, from

The in-text citation formation would be (Wikipedia, 2006).

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