Text Size

It was inevitable

If there is a bad, yet very simple, way to do something and there are no consquences for doing so, then a significant percentage of people will go that route to avoid complexity and to save time.

Thus, it was almost inevitable, wasn't it, that reputable scientists and researchers in other disciplines would migrate from reputable sources to cite in professional journals to, well, Wikipedia.

The Montreal Gazette/National Post reports on a Canadian study that found "that thousands of peer-reviewed papers in medical journals have cited Wikipedia in recent years, and the number of references is increasing fast."

That's right: "peer-reviewed."

In case you're a newcomer to the research-and-publish game, Wikipedia has never been viewed as an acceptable reference work for professional publications. That's because it's crowd-sourced, and double-checked for accuracy and reliability only by members of the crowd, if they get around to it.

Journalists-in-training are routinely warned not to use Wikipedia in news and feature stories. Go to the original and best source, they are told. (Now, it is perfectly fine to look at a Wikipedia entry's bibliography to see if you can find that best source from the list.)

One surprised researcher, Dr. Sylvain Boet of Ottawa Hospital, told the newspaper that the growth in Wikipedia citations has grown exponentially over the last three years. "It goes against all the principles of scientific reporting and referencing," the doctor said.

So, how come peers are letting these citations through in the vetting process?

The cynical among us would say because they expect to use the same bankrupt techniques when given the chance.

DMC Firewall is developed by Dean Marshall Consultancy Ltd