- Always be wary of any one single source, or of multiple works that derive from a single source.
- Where articles have references to external sources (whether online or not) read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says.
- In all academic institutions, Wikipedia, along with most encyclopedias, is unacceptable as a major source for a research paper. Other encyclopedias, such as Britannica, have notable authors working for them and may be cited as a secondary source in most cases. For example, Cornell University has a guide on how to cite encyclopedias.
Finally from a response to a refdesk email last spring:
Wikipedia is a convenient place to get general info, but the site carries a warning that it is not an acceptable source to cite in a college research paper. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia and
In addition, I know several faculty that would refuse to accept a paper that cites Wikipedia.
Happily, we have easy access to a number of resources that you can use to verify the info from Wikipedia, and would be suitable for citation.
Encyclopedia Britannica is listed among our online encyclopedias
And Biography Reference Bank includes a number of online articles about Rosa Parks