Use Wikipedia to Find Sources for Research

Dec 31, 1969
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Will you: 

Have fun struggling with the fascinating studies, reports, and articles that you find in the References, External Links and Further Reading sections at the bottom of Wikipedia pages. No matter what teachers and others think about the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia, most agree that it's a good launching pad for finding more solid sources for your research.

"Did you know that Google BooksWeb Archive and BBC are three most commonly used sources on Wikipedia?" In July 2012, “crawled the entire database of English Wikipedia to compile a list of Wikipedia’s top sources. The result – a list over 2 million websites, ranked by number of Wikipedia’s pages referencing to the source. You can find the entire list here:" And the image above shows Wikipedia’s Top 50 websites.

Notice how many News Magazines are used by Wikipedia's contributors (about 1/3 of all the sources used). It stands to reason that you if you are looking for magazine articles, checking the sources listed at the bottom of an article related to your question or inquiry topic might be a useful habit to develop. By following the links on a Wikipedia page, you'll also find government statistics, book sources, videos, and links to archived websites.

Try this!

1. Before you do this mission, do the mission Wikipedia: A good starting point.

Read and annotate a wikipedia article that sheds light on your inquiry questions, then write a response in which you quote from other sources that either support what is said in Wikipedia or question something published there.

2. Look at the References, External Links, and Further Reading sections at the bottom of most Wikipedia articles.

  • If items have links, follow those until you find two or three complex, thought-provoking, peer-reviewed, well-documented articles that you can use in your research.
  • Some items are not linked, but you can still find them by searching on Google or by asking for help to find them from a libriarian or your teacher.

3 Go for it, but be picky. Choose articles that look well-researched (They have long bibliographies), peer-reviewed (They come from a journal), and complex (You’ll have to really work at understanding it, looking up some words, asking questions). And most important choose two or three articles that seem to have a different perspectives on your topic. Find something that challenges your view, something that isn’t the common, mainstream answers to your inquiry question. Find articles that are interesting -- but also ones that you can digest, given your reading level and your level of passion for this topic.

4. Once you’ve found an article that you think will be interesting and will stretch your thinking a bit, annotate it using Annotate every paragraph or so with questions, opinions, reactions. Sign up at and join our Youth Voices group, and post your annotations to our group.

5. Create "quote sandwiches" for three quotes from each article that you read. Use Adding a quotation to a discussion to guide you in making quote sandwiches.

6. Post a discussion or a comment on Youth Voices about your new research.