Why then are academics so wary about the use of Wikipedia within universities? There are a number of related reasons. Before outlining them we should acknowledge that there may be differences according to academic discipline in attitudes towards Wikipedia. Speaking to academics from the natural and medical sciences over the last year, it seems that those subjects are less concerned with issues of originality of source than the arts and social sciences. It also may be [pic] and this is genuine speculation [pic] that academics in the English speaking world, where most of the academic controversy over Wikipedia use has been, are more sensitive to the source than in other parts of the world. These qualifications aside, there are definite reasons why Wikipedia use is, at the very least, contentious in universities.
First, it is the product of anonymous individuals rather than known authorities, Wales is quite explicit on this:
One of the fastest things we’re beginning to lose is the view of the world that there are a handful of thoughtful, intelligent people that should be broadcasting their views to everyone. And then the public is some sort of crazed rabble, easily swayed by rhetoric and so forth. Now we have to have a more nuanced understanding.
Wikipedia is not necessarily anti-academic but it is anti-elitist as evidenced by the short shrift given to eminent academics in debates when they expected deference (see Keen 2007, 43[pic]4). Second, the non-proprietary nature of Wikipedia cuts against academic culture which valorises the rights of the author and publisher. Third, the anonymity of Wikipedia articles is alien to the cache of the named writer of the journal article or book. Fourth, the collaborative process challenges the norm of individual creation, prevalent in the arts and social sciences. Fifth, as intimated, Wikipedia departs from the standard mode of vetting by peer review. It is not true that articles are not reviewed. On the contrary, they...
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