Academic Perceptions Of Wikipedia And Its Impact On Online Research

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Title Academic Perceptions Of Wikipedia And Its Impact On Online Research


Presenter

Mohammed Sadat Abdulai (User:Masssly)


Abstract Wikipedia use is increasing by 29 percent annually (Summers, 2013). More and more students are turning to it when doing research for their assignments, and more and more instructors consult Wikipedia when setting topics (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). While Wikipedia has primarily been contributed to by people from the developed world (particularly men), it’s use as a reference tool is well documented among all researchers worldwide, including those from Africa.

What do researchers from this geography think about Wikipedia as an academic source of information? How does Wikipedia the encyclopedia impact on their work?

This presentation aims to highlight excerpts from my masters thesis work that accessed academic perceptions of Wikipedia and examined the impact of Wikipedia on academic research.

Using Multistage sampling, 163 respondents comprising of students and faculty members selected from universities in Ghana were interviewed using an online questionnaire. Factor analysis was employed to reduce a total of eighteen (18) items perceived to influence perception of the usage of Wikipedia to six (6) uncorrelated factors including credibility, popularity, accuracy, personal characteristics, usability and functionality, and accessibility and availability. Three (3) of the six (6) reduced factors including credibility, popularity, and accessibility and availability proved to have statistically significant positive influence on the perception of the usage of Wikipedia as a resource for academic research. Thus, improvement in credibility, popularity, and accessibility and availability of Wikipedia has been investigated to improve perception of Wikipedia usage. The study found that: (i) Wikipedia has the highest popularity among academic researchers to conducting academic research compared to other online resources and the variance of its usage did not reflect differences across schools, field of study or gender (ii) Most academic researchers prefer Wikipedia for its unrestricted free pricing and complete control over content, (iii) Wikipedia has a positive influence on academic research as argued by majority of the respondents, and (iv) People with good understanding of Wikipedia have positive perception towards its usage. This study however recommends that, both the faculty members and students learn good practices in using Wikipedia. It also recommends that Wikipedia increase the number of articles it regularly submits for peer review to enforce quality.

Abstract


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