Wed. Jan. 21, 2015
Studies show that a large percentage of college and university students begin their academic research projects with Wikipedia. While there are many reasons why your professors don't want you to use information from this source in an academic paper, Wikipedia does have some powerful features to help you get started investigating your topic.
Why not use Wikipedia in your paper?
In case you missed it, there are a few aspects of Wikipedia that make it unsuitable as an academic source:
Here are some snippets from Wikipedia's general disclaimer:
"Wikipedia is not uniformly peer reviewed; while readers may correct errors or engage in casual peer review, they have no legal duty to do so and thus all information read here is without any implied warranty of fitness for any purpose or use whatsoever."
"None of the contributors, sponsors, administrators or anyone else connected with Wikipedia in any way whatsoever can be responsible for the appearance of any inaccurate or libelous information or for your use of the information contained in or linked from these web pages."
What this means is that Wikipedia is designed for casual use, not serious academic, technical, or professional work, or for any other purpose that requires precision and correctness.
That said, entries in Wikipedia do make use of some major academic conventions that you might recognize from scholarly articles or books and that may be useful for helping you get started with your topic.