Why and where Wikipedia is cited in journal articles?

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Date: September-December 2013
From: Journal of Scientometric Research(Vol. 2, Issue 3)
Publisher: Medknow Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,673 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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Byline: Fariba. Tohidinasab, Hamid. Jamali

The aim of this research was to identify the motivations for citation to Wikipedia in scientific papers. Also, the number of citation to Wikipedia, location of citation, type of citing papers, subject of citing and cited articles were determined and compared in different subject fields. From all English articles indexed in Scopus in 2007 and 2012 that have cited Wikipedia, 602 articles were selected using stratified random sampling. Content analysis and bibliometric methods were used to carry out the research. Results showed that there are 20 motivations for citing Wikipedia and the most frequent of them are providing general information and definition, facts and figures. Citations to Wikipedia often were in the introduction and introductory sections of papers. Computer sciences, internet and chemistry were the most cited subjects. The use of Wikipedia in articles is increasing both in terms of quantity and diversity. However, there are disciplinary differences both in the amount and the nature of use of Wikipedia.


Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, includes close to 4 million entries and is now a much-used resource. [sup][1] The popularity of Wikipedia in the academic community has been growing since its creation in 2001 [sup][2] and it will probably become increasingly important as a tool to send the scientific researches out. [sup][3] Despite its popularity, Wikipedia is not uniformly accepted as a credible and trustworthy resource for research. Obviously, the concern regarding Wikipedia's credibility stems from the unique process of content generation that allows essentially anonymous individuals to create and update articles. [sup][4] However, with the continuous development and growing readership, concerns about the credibility of this source still exist. Despite the uncertainties about the credibility and quality of Wikipedia, Wikipedia is increasingly being cited by researchers. [sup][5],[6] Although, there have been many studies about Wikipedia, we still do not know why researchers cite Wikipedia. Our aim in this study is to answer this question. More specifically we seek answers to the following questions:

*What are the motivations for citing Wikipedia? *Where in journal articles (in which parts) Wikipedia is cited? *How is the distribution of citations to Wikipedia across different article types? *What are the subjects of cited Wikipedia entries? *How is the distribution of the citing articles across different subject categories?

Literature Review

We present the review of the past works in two sections. First we review studies about citation motivations and typing and then, studies related to Wikipedia.

Citation Motivation Studies

One of the first categorizations of citation types is the one by Garfield. [sup][7] He listed 15 reasons or motivations for citations, from paying homage to pioneers and giving credit for related work to disclaiming ideas of others and disputing priority claims of others (negative homage). [sup][7]

Since Garfield's list, several other researchers proposed categorizations of citation types or motivations. [Table 1] shows the list of these authors with the approach they used to generate their list and the number of citation types they proposed in their...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A394585293