Wikimedian in Residence

Citing Wikipedia

Don't cite Wikipedia, write Wikipedia.

Advice on citing Wikipedia 

Wikipedia does not want you to cite it.

It considers itself a tertiary resource. It is an online encyclopaedia built from articles which are in turn based on reliable, published, secondary sources. Wikipedia itself states that they advise special caution when using Wikipedia as a source for research project.

See Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia for further discussion.

Remember as well that, as great as Wikipedia is, anyone can edit, delete or alter the information making it accurate or false. Treat Wikipedia as you would any other encyclopaedia, as an introduction to a topic and a springboard to find further information sources. 

Wikipedia is relentlessly transparent. 

Everything on Wikipedia can be checked, challenged and corrected. When referencing Wikipedia, you must cite the sources Wikipedia uses, not Wikipedia. 


Vandalism is removed much more quickly than you may think on Wikipedia and also only 7% of edits are considered vandalism. For example:

Preliminary analysis reveals (∼90%) of the vandalism or foul edits are done by unregistered users… community reaction seemed to be immediate: most vandalisms were reverted within 5 mins on average

If you do decide to cite Wikipedia 

If you decide to cite an article on Wikipedia be mindful that these articles are constantly changing. Cite the exact time, exact date and the article version you are using. A link to a permanent link of a stable version of the article is a practical way to do this.  

© Ewan McAndrew and Hannah Rothmann, University of Edinburgh, 2020, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.