How well do kids do research today? Should they ever look at Wikipedia?
Readers had some interesting responses to yesterday’s post from high school senior Adam Turay about how unexpectedly difficult it was for him to do a research paper using books rather than the Internet.
Parents: How extensively do your children do research for school papers? Does anyone still own encyclopedias?
Teachers: What sources and how many of them do you require when you assign a research paper? Is Wikipedia acceptable as a source?
Posted by: jane100000
Adam, some would say (and I would agree) that neither conducting an on-line search nor consulting an encyclopedia counts as doing a research paper. Google and wikipedia can give a student a great start in gaining some grasp of the issues s/he is planning to address in a paper, but only reading entire chapters (or entire books) and being able to consult journal articles can get you even close to confidence that you’re not missing the boat.
Posted by: Rob63
It isn’t so much the mode of research (electronic v. paper bound) that matters, but rather the types of sources one uses. Wikipedia isn’t to be avoided because its articles can be changed easily; it is to be avoided because it is by nature a tertiary source. The same is true for the World Book or the Encyclopedia Britannica. In order to do true research, you must, at a minimum, use secondary sources, but preferably primary sources. If all you’re using is an encyclopedia, then you have more problems than just dealing with the horrors of no Google.
| November 13, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Tags: research papers, wikipedia
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