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Students' use of Wikipedia as an academic resource — patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness.

Selwyn, N. and Gorard, S. (2016) 'Students' use of Wikipedia as an academic resource — patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness.', The Internet and higher education., 28 . pp. 28-34.


Wikipedia is now an established information source in contemporary society. With initial fears over its detrimental influence on scholarship and study habits now subsiding, this paper investigates what part Wikipedia plays in the academic lives of undergraduate students. The paper draws upon survey data gathered from students across two universities in Australia (n = 1658), alongside follow-up group interview data from a subsample of 35 students. Analysis of this data suggests that Wikipedia is now an embedded feature of most students' study, although to a lesser extent than other online information sources such as YouTube and Facebook. For the most part, Wikipedia was described as an introductory and/or supplementary source of information — providing initial orientation and occasional clarification on study topics. While 87.5% of students reported using Wikipedia, it was seen to be of limited usefulness when compared with university-provided library resources, e-books, learning management systems, lecture recordings and academic literature databases. These findings were notably patterned in terms of students' gender, year of study, first language spoken and subject of study.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Article first available online 5 September 2015
Keywords:Wikipedia, Undergraduates, Survey.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The Internet and Higher Education. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Internet and Higher Education, 28, January 2016, 10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.08.004.
Date accepted:23 August 2015
Date deposited:14 September 2015
Date of first online publication:05 September 2015
Date first made open access:05 March 2017

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