Comparison of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias for accuracy, breadth, and depth in historical articles

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Publication (help)
Comparison of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias for accuracy, breadth, and depth in historical articles
Authors: Lucy Holman Rector [edit item]
Citation: Reference Services Review 36 (1): . 2008.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1108/00907320810851998.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Yes
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Comparison of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias for accuracy, breadth, and depth in historical articles is a publication by Lucy Holman Rector.


[edit] Abstract

This paper seeks to provide reference librarians and faculty with evidence regarding the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Wikipedia articles compared with respected reference resources. This content analysis evaluated nine Wikipedia articles against comparable articles in Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Dictionary of American History and American National Biography Online in order to compare Wikipedia's comprehensiveness and accuracy. The researcher used a modification of a stratified random sampling and a purposive sampling to identify a variety of historical entries and compared each text in terms of depth, accuracy, and detail. The study did reveal inaccuracies in eight of the nine entries and exposed major flaws in at least two of the nine Wikipedia articles. Overall, Wikipedia's accuracy rate was 80 percent compared with 95-96 percent accuracy within the other sources. This study does support the claim that Wikipedia is less reliable than other reference resources. Furthermore, the research found at least five unattributed direct quotations and verbatim text from other sources with no citations. More research must be undertaken to analyze Wikipedia entries in other disciplines in order to judge the source's accuracy and overall quality. This paper also shows the need for analysis of Wikipedia articles' histories and editing process. This research provides a methodology for further content analysis of Wikipedia articles. Although generalizations cannot be made from this paper alone, the paper provides empirical data to support concerns regarding the accuracy and authoritativeness of Wikipedia.

[edit] Research questions

"This paper seeks to provide reference librarians and faculty with evidence regarding the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Wikipedia articles compared with respected reference resources."

Research details

Topics: Comprehensiveness, Reliability [edit item]
Domains: Library science [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "Undetermined" [edit item]
Research design: Content analysis [edit item]
Data source: Documents, Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Subject, Website [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The study did reveal inaccuracies in eight of the nine entries and exposed major flaws in at least two of the nine Wikipedia articles. Overall, Wikipedia's accuracy rate was 80 percent compared with 95-96 percent accuracy within the other sources. This study does support the claim that Wikipedia is less reliable than other reference resources. Furthermore, the research found at least five unattributed direct quotations and verbatim text from other sources with no citations."

[edit] Comments

"Overall, Wikipedia's accuracy rate was 80 percent compared with 95-96 percent accuracy within the other sources which supports the claim that Wikipedia is less reliable than other reference resources."


Further notes[edit]

Data collection: "the researcher randomly selected an entry, alternating among the four types of entries so that there were two biographies, two events, two places, and three movements/phenomena in total." (p. 10) "Once the researcher identified examples of each type article in the historical encyclopedias, she found the comparable article in Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. For the two biographies, the researcher then selected the equivalent biographical essay in the American National Biography Online." (p. 10-11) "The study compared each text in terms of size, accuracy, detail, references (verifiability) and opportunities for further reading." (p. 11)