How to Cite Wikipedia in Your Research Paper

Understanding Wikipedia’s Credibility

Wikipedia is a popular online encyclopedia that contains a vast amount of information on almost every topic. However, as a user-generated platform, its credibility has been a topic of debate among scholars and researchers. While Wikipedia can be a useful starting point for research, it’s important to understand its credibility before using it as a source in your research paper.

Wikipedia’s credibility depends on its contributors and editors, who are often anonymous and may not have any expertise or authority on the subject they are writing about. Furthermore, Wikipedia articles can be edited by anyone, which makes it prone to errors, biases, and vandalism.

To assess the credibility of a Wikipedia article, you should examine its sources, check the revision history to see who made the edits and why, and compare the information to other reliable sources. You can also look for citations within the Wikipedia article and use those sources instead.

In summary, while Wikipedia can be a useful starting point for research, you should use it with caution and always verify its information through other reliable sources.

Using the Correct Citation Style

When citing Wikipedia in your research paper, it’s important to use the correct citation style to give credit to the source and avoid plagiarism. The citation style you use will depend on your academic discipline and the preference of your instructor or publisher.

The most commonly used citation styles include APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago/Turabian. Each style has its own guidelines for citing online sources, including Wikipedia.

In general, when citing a Wikipedia article, you should include the article title, author (if available), publication date, the name of the website (Wikipedia), and the URL. You should also include the date you accessed the article.

Here’s an example of a citation in APA style for a Wikipedia article:

Smith, J. (2022, March 1). Climate change. In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from

Note that the author’s name is written in the format of last name, first initial, and that the article title is written in sentence case, with only the first word capitalized. The retrieval date is also included to indicate when you accessed the article.

Overall, using the correct citation style will ensure that your research paper meets the standards of academic integrity and gives proper credit to your sources.

How to Cite a Specific Wikipedia Page

If you want to cite a specific page or section within a Wikipedia article, you should include the title of the page or section and the name of the article, along with the publication date, website name, and URL.

Here’s an example of a citation in MLA style for a specific section within a Wikipedia article:

Smith, John. “The History of Vaccines.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 March 2022,

Note that the section title is included after the article title, separated by a hashtag (#). This allows readers to easily find the specific section you are citing within the larger article.

If you are citing a Wikipedia page that has been updated or revised multiple times, you should also include the version number or revision date, along with the URL of the specific version you accessed.

Citing a specific page or section within a Wikipedia article can be useful if you want to highlight a particular aspect of the topic or provide more specific information to your readers. It can also help to make your citation more precise and accurate.

Avoiding Plagiarism and Maintaining Academic Integrity

When using Wikipedia as a source in your research paper, it’s important to avoid plagiarism and maintain academic integrity. Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work or ideas without giving proper credit, and it is considered a serious offense in academic settings.

To avoid plagiarism, you should always cite your sources properly, including Wikipedia articles. This means using the correct citation style and providing accurate information about the source, such as the author, publication date, and URL.

In addition, you should use information from Wikipedia articles as a starting point for your research, but not rely solely on them. You should also verify the information through other reliable sources, such as scholarly articles, books, or government websites.

Finally, you should also use your own words and ideas when synthesizing information from multiple sources. Simply copying and pasting information from Wikipedia or other sources without adding your own analysis or interpretation is not acceptable in academic writing.

In summary, using Wikipedia as a source in your research paper can be acceptable if you follow the proper guidelines for citation and use the information responsibly. However, you should always verify the information through other reliable sources and avoid plagiarism by using your own words and ideas.

Why It’s Important to Cite Your Sources

Citing your sources in your research paper is important for several reasons. First, it gives credit to the original author or creator of the work, which is an ethical and legal obligation. Failing to give proper credit can be considered plagiarism, which can result in serious consequences in academic and professional settings.

Second, citing your sources allows readers to verify the information and check the accuracy of your claims. This enhances the credibility of your research paper and demonstrates your knowledge and expertise on the topic.

Third, citing your sources helps you avoid unintentional plagiarism by making it clear which ideas and information are your own and which are derived from other sources. This can also help you organize your thoughts and arguments and create a more cohesive and logical paper.

Finally, citing your sources helps to build the scholarly conversation and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in your field. By acknowledging the work of others and building upon it, you can make a meaningful contribution to your discipline and demonstrate your commitment to academic excellence.

In summary, citing your sources is an important part of the research process that helps to maintain academic integrity, build credibility, and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your field.

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