Citation needed : the perceived credibility of Wikipedia among high education students

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Medier och kommunikation

Abstract:

This thesis is called “Citation needed – the perceived credibility of Wikipedia among higheducation students”. The purpose of this thesis is to discover the opinions about the credibilityof Wikipedia among high education students. The assumption is that students are aware ofbeing source criticizing and do not directly cite Wikipedia in academic works.

The main research question is: what are the views of the perceived credibility of theinformation on Wikipedia among high education students?

The theoretical framework is made out of previous research specific related to Wikipediabut also theories around memory creation, assessment of sources and credibility.

The method used is qualitative, with semi-structured interviews. The material consists ofinterviews with nine participants. Their answers are transcribed and presented in themes andthen analyzed.

The main results are that the perceived credibility of the information on Wikipedia amongthe students is that it is fairly credible and their views of the encyclopedia are that it is fastupdated and neutral. They also believe that Wikipedia isn’t for academic usage so in allaspects the students do not make a thoroughly assessment of the encyclopedia’s credibility.

Further implications are that Wikipedia would be ruined if anyone tried to make itacademic. Wikipedia fulfills an educational tool for the public even though it is not alwayscorrect. It is important to be reminded that Wikipedia contains errors but no other source iscompletely flawless either. In that sense it would be smarter to start a new encyclopedia, ifthere is such a need, perhaps open for professors only and would in the end only containvetted information, however mostly/only in academic fields.

The length of the thesis is 56 pages in total and approximately 21 000 words.

Keywords: Wikipedia, encyclopedias, source criticism, credibility, Nationalencyclopedin,students, in-depth interviews.

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