Image from Giulia Forsythe: Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/8174197748/ and used according to a Creative Commons Attribution License
Have you ever read an article that put words to something you’ve been trying to say? I came upon one:
Calhoun, C. (2014). Using Wikipedia in information literacy instruction: Tips for developing research skills. College & Research Libraries News, ?, 32-33.
I’ve long thought of Wikipedia as a springboard to more scholarly material. Calhoun (2014) details how to use it as a springboard:
- Developing Topics
Wikipedia entries can help you refine a rough topic idea through the subheadings within an entry (Calhoun, 2014, p. 32). For example I searched for the term “genre.” There I saw the subheading of “audience,” a focus which could certainly apply to information literacy (Information sources have audiences, after all.).
- Finding Keywords
Readers can also use Wikipedia to find keywords and names for further research (Calhoun, 2014, p.33). To use the genre article again, I read the audience section and found the phrase “antecedent genre.” Since new genres can spring from antecedent genres, this is another important concept: I was glad to be reminded of the term. If an article has some inaccurate details, the search terms could help the researcher cross-check the facts.
- Reading Further
Many Wikipedia entries include a list of references (Calhoun, 2014, p. 33). Mine led me to a classic article on antecedent genres (Jamieson, 1975). Some entries may have inaccurate or less-than-credible references, which could provide a teachable moment.
Of course these uses overlap with one another. The additional reading can lead to additional search terms, etc. Still, the article outlines some appropriate uses of Wikipedia, a tool like any other. Let’s use it wisely.
Genre. (2014). Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genre
Jamieson, K. M. (1975). Antecedent genre as rhetorical constraint. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 61(4), 406-415. doi: