Wikipedia is one of the most commonly referenced sources in the modern scientific community. Every day thousands of students are looking for a way to use Wikipedia in their academic writing and cite it the right way, but it’s not always easy.
Many students who struggle with citing sources properly in their written assignments wonder: why is it even important to cite sources at all? The truth is that correctly citing sources that you used in your work instantly gives your paper a more scholarly feel and makes it acceptable for other scholars, whether it’s your professor or other members of the scientific community. Each time you reference other person’s work in your paper, it needs to be properly cited. Citing scientific works is important for a number of reasons:
- Citations in your work add a lot of accuracy to your paper. Readers who see that you’ve used plenty of sources and correctly cited all of them are more likely to positively assess your work without looking at the original sources.
- Citing other people’s scientific works improves your own research skills. You train your ability to look for the necessary information, finding it, including it into your work, and then citing it for other people to do their own research if they want to.
- As an academic writer, you can’t just present a fact saying “As we all know” – instead you need a credible source to back up your opinion on the matter, and there is nothing better to use for this purpose than citations.
- Citing academic sources adds credibility to your own work. Even if the reader comes across something in your paper they don’t completely agree with or believe, they can look at the source to make sure you’re telling the truth.
How to cite Wikipedia in APA
Do you have an American Psychological Association style paper where you need to properly reference Wikipedia? There is a step by step guide for doing it!
- Write the title of the article without any quotes and italics.
- Write the date when the article was published, if it’s available. If not, put “n.d.” in parenthesis right after the title. Put a full stop after the date.
- Write “In Wikipedia”, where the word “Wikipedia” is italicized. Put a full stop after this part.
- Write the retrieval date, or the date when you accessed the article for the last time. Use the “month, date, year” format after the word “Retrieved”. For example, if you’ve last retrieved the article on November 2, 2017, this section should read as “Retrieved November 2, 2017”. Put a comma after the date.
- Insert the URL of the page you’re citing after the comma. Use the full URL, starting with “https”. Don’t put a full stop after the URL.
How to cite Wikipedia in MLA
The Modern Language Association style has its own guidelines for citing Wikipedia as a source. Here they are:
- Write the article title, followed by a period. Then put the whole construction in quotation marks. Normally MLA citations start with the name of the author, but since Wikipedia articles don’t have authors, you will start with the article title.
- Next you need to indicate a larger source where you found the article. In this case, you need to state that you found the article on Wikipedia. Write “Wikipedia” without quotation marks and put this word in italics. Then put a full stop.
- According to MLA guidelines, you are expected to specify the publisher of the source, but since we are using Wikipedia, you’ll simply need to put Wikipedia.org after a period and followed by a coma.
- Write the date when the article was published. If you can’t find the date in the Wikipedia article, simply write “n.p.” after the comma. You can try finding the date in the History tab of the article you’re working with. If you find a date, write it in the “day, month, year format”, for example, 5 Jul 2014, followed by a comma.
- Copy and paste the URL of the article. The full URL is not needed in the MLA style – you can leave the “https” out of the URL. Put a period after the URL.
- Specify the date when you found the source. For example, if you discovered the Wikipedia article on the 2nd of November, 2017, this part will look like this: “Accessed 2 November 2017”, followed by a period.
How to cite a Wikipedia article
You can cite Wikipedia articles directly from the website. To do this, follow these steps:
- Find the drop-down menu button on the left side of the page and click on Toolbox.
- Choose the “Cite this page” option.
- Copy the formatted text and paste it into your work.
How to cite Wikipedia in-text
In-text citations are used when the author needs to reference a certain statement he had previously gotten from an external source – in this case, a Wikipedia article. In-text citing Wikipedia articles is actually rather easy – you just need to put the name of the article in quotation marks, followed by the date when the article was published or “n.d.” in case you don’t know the publishing date. Then you need to put the whole construction into parenthesis.