A UBC professor is embracing Wikipedia as a platform for academic publication. More universities should be taking this approach.
“VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) – Wikipedia, the upstart Internet encyclopedia that most universities forbid students to use, has suddenly become a teaching tool for professors.
Recently, university teachers have swapped student term papers for assignments to write entries for the free online encyclopedia.
Wikipedia is an “open-source” web site, which means that entries can be started or edited by anyone in the world with an Internet connection.
Writing for Wikipedia “seems like a much larger stage, more of a challenge,” than a term paper, said professor Jon Beasley-Murray, who teaches Latin American literature at the University of British Columbia in this western Canadian city.
“The vast majority of Wikipedia entries aren’t very good,” said Beasley-Murray, but said the site aims to be academically sound.
To reach its goal of academic standards, said Wikipedia’s web site, it set up an assessment scale on its English-language site. The best encyclopedia entries are ranked as “Featured Articles,” and run each day on the home page at www.wikipedia.com.
To be ranked as a “Featured Article,” Wikipedia said an entry must “provide thorough, well-written coverage of their topic, supported by many references to peer-reviewed publications.”
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