College students mostly begin research at Wikipedia
March 16th, 2010

A Wired Campus article reports on a study of student usage of Wikipedia. The finding that the most common reason students go to Wikipedia is to begin research belies the frequent grousing that students probably do not get excellence in research because they rely too much on Wikipedia. The report begins:

More than half of college students frequently or always consult Wikipedia for course-related research, according to a report  published in First Monday, an online, peer-reviewed journal. Only 22 percent of respondents to the survey said they rarely or never use Wikipedia. The study is based on responses from 2,318 students and qualitative data from 86 who participated in focus groups.

The most common reason that students reported using Wikipedia was to obtain background information or a summary about a topic and to get started with research. Only 16 percent of survey respondents said they used Wikipedia because of its wiki capabilities. Students were far more likely to use Wikipedia at the very begining or near the begining of research than at the end of the process . . . .

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