August 31, 2007 by Sandro Saitta Filed Under: Citation, Reference, Wikipedia If You'Re New Here, You May Want to Subscribe to My Rss Feed. Thanks for Visiting! I Recently Had in Interesting Discussion with My Director

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Submitted By lisahxt
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I recently had in interesting discussion with my director about references. The goal of references is twofold. The writer, can refer some texts positively. It is the case if he uses an existing algorithm, for example. A reference can also be used negatively. This happens when the writer want to highlight lack in the literature. He can thus justify the originality of his work. As already mentioned in an former post, some book or articles refer to Wikipedia. That’s where things go bad…

Wikipedia is a huge database, an open source encyclopedia (i.e. anybody can contribute to it). The main advantage is that you get a tremendous quantity of articles in any domain. This is a good source to get fast information. But there are two main drawbacks. First, anybody can modify it. Some people may stop me and argue that articles are reviewed by the community. The problem, concerning references, is more regarding the second drawback of Wikipedia: the content changes over time! And this is really bad…
When writing a data mining article, people usually refer to journals or books. The implicit assumption is that the content is fixed and will not evolve over time. If a writer refers today to a data mining algorithm on Wikipedia, he has no guarantee that it will be the same in two, three or ten years. Requirements for reliable references are that they i) cross the time without any changes and ii) that they are easily accessible. Following these ideas, writers should refer articles in this order of priority:
Journal articles or books
Thesis (if in English)
Technical reports
Conference proceedings
Websites (but they should be avoided)
I think Wikipedia is definitely not a good place to refer. What is your opinion? Is Wikipedia a reliable referring source?
[Thanks to Prof. Ian Smith, for fruitful discussions about this topic]
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