Regent faculty to debate the role of Wikipedia in scholarly research

Written by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian

Wikipedia has always been controversial as a reliable source. Opinions about “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” vary from it being an effort to give “every single person on the planet…free access to the sum of all human knowledge,”1 to “a pernicious influence on our intellectual life,”2 or even “a subtle threat to freedom of thought.”3

To help make sense of the controversy surrounding Wikipedia, three distinguished members of the faculty will debate the question:

Scholarly Research in Higher Education:
What should be the role of Wikipedia?

Leading the attack on Wikipedia as a scholarly source will be Prof. James Duane from the School of Law. Dr. John Munday, chair of science programs in the School of Undergraduate Studies will discuss his experiences contributing to some of Wikipedia’s science entries. Dr. Markus Pfeiffer from the School of Communications will discuss the significance of Wikipedia in the context of developments in Web 2.0 and social media.

The debate will take place in the Library Exhibition Area on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Pizza will be served at 11:45 and the program will begin at 12:00. We will also announce the winners of our National Library Week essay contest.

1Wikiquote contributors, “Jimmy Wales,” Wikiquote. http:en.wikiquote.orgwikiJimmy_Wales

2Oliver Kamm, “Wisdom? More like dumbness of the crowds” TimesOnline.

3Martin Cohen, “Encyclopaedia Idiotica.” Times Higher Education.