Wikipedia and the Two-Faced Professoriate

Track: Posters
Authors: Patricia L. Dooley (Elliott School of Communication, USA)

A primary responsibility of university teachers is to guide their students in the process of using only the most accurate research resources in their completion of assignments. Thus, it is not surprising to hear that faculty routinely coach their students to use Wikipedia carefully. Even more pronounced anti-Wikipedia backlashes have developed on some campuses, leading faculty to forbid their students to use the popular on-line compendium of information. Within this context, but directing the spotlight away from students, this pilot study uses survey and content analysis research methods to explore how faculty at U.S. universities and colleges regard Wikipedia’s credibility as an information source, as well as how they use Wikipedia in their academic work. The results of the survey reveal that while none of the university faculty who completed it regard Wikipedia as an extremely credible source of information, more than half stated it has moderate to high credibility, and many use it in both their teaching and research. The results of the content analysis component of the study demonstrates that academic researchers from across the disciplines are citing Wikipedia as a source of scholarly information in their peer-reviewed research reports. Although the study’s research findings are not generalizable, they are surprising considering the professoriate’s oft-stated lack of trust in Wikipedia.