Why not use Wikipedia?

misA recent article in the BBC news titled “Trust your doctor, not Wikipedia, say scientists” got me thinking about how dependable we can become on websites such as Wikipedia and how reliable the information we obtain from it is. During the first year of university, the importance of using reliable sources for information when writing essays or doing some extra reading around a subject will be drilled into you. This means moving away from websites such as Wikipedia and more towards articles and reviews published in respected journals.

What I initially found to be difficult was understanding the terminology used in these journals. Wikipedia is mostly very easy to understand and has a petty simple structure to follow. Journal articles however can be very difficult to understand and generally need to be read more than once before you can get a gist of what the authors are explaining. Once you get into the habit of reading journals though you learn to skim the text and pick up the main bits of information and occasionally, you may well come across something on Wikipedia or another website that you will read and know to be incorrect. What you need to consider when obtaining information is how reliable is the source? Wikipedia can be edited by practically anyone and so its accuracy is questionable. It is mentioned in this article that Wikipedia contains errors in nine out of 10 of its health entries. Scary.

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maryam

About maryam

Maryam graduated in the Summer of 2014 and is no longer blogging for this site. Maryam blogged about the final year of her degree in Medical Physiology after returning from an industrial placement year at GlaxoSmithKline.

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2 responses to “Why not use Wikipedia?”

  1. David Lozano

    Scary indeed! I never use Wikipedia for medical information. But I still use it to get a preview of what topics are related to my search, it is more like a guide to me than an accurate source of information.

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