Using Online Encyclopedias as Academic Resources

In the past the encyclopedia was the go to source for information on a variety of topics. Naturally because of its concise format, details were often minimal. This however did not stop them from being used effectively as academic resources especially for high school students. In the early stages of the Internet some academics dismissed online encyclopedias as being useful for educational purposes. These days there are a number of positives to using online encyclopedias in various fields of study.

Online Encyclopedias in Education

As research methods have improved over the years, these methods have been applied to the development of online encyclopedias as well. In fact books, online journals, papers, newspapers and documents are routinely searched for current information. Some teachers and students have begun to view online encyclopedias in a new light for the following reasons:

•They are generally free, which is good for students or anyone with limited financial resources.
•As academic resources, they can be quickly and easily accessed. This beats hours in the library looking through reference material. Information can be found by using relevant search terms, and students can have their pick of listed articles on the topic.
•Information is quickly updated so users are usually assured of current content. Additionally, the websites generally require that all references are cited. Editors also fact check the information provided to ensure accuracy.

Finding the Best Options

There are a number of websites online offering free and what they claim is accurate information. Unfortunately, even the most meticulous of researchers can fall prey to inaccuracies posted in online encyclopedias. Clearly, they can’t all be seen as reliable academic resources.

Researchers should look for recognized names that have been in the encyclopedia business for years. Many analysts would agree that many free online encyclopedias can be trusted. Understandably, in the field of education this may not be enough, however. Students and teachers must therefore reach a consensus on what types of online encyclopedias can be used as academic resources as against for basic information such as for background reading.

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