Wikipedia is a web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles." - Wikipedia
Research nowadays usually begins with a Google search, and typically uses a Wikipedia article. However, Wikipedia articles are NOT reliable sources, and they do not provide a good definition as a resource when writing a paper (since anyone can change the information at any time). If you just want a quick overview of a topic, it's a quick source of information. But it is completely inadequate to use when writing a paper.
Information taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:The_Wikipedia_Library/Research_libraries
1. Anyone can create, edit, or delete Wikipedia articles.
2. Wikipedia articles cannot be considered scholarly, because we know nothing about the contributors.
3. Articles are works-in-progress, meaning changes are constantly occuring to the information. When an article is first published, the information might waver back and forth between viewpoints before achieving a neutral tone.
4. Sometimes articles are vandalized, whether for fun, as a hoax, or because the subject is controversial.
5. The intended audience can vary-- some articles are written from a insider's view, with highly technical language, while some are written for a more general audience.
6. The information can be inconsistent.
Thanks to the University of Pittsburgh for this information.
1. Wikipedia is completely free, providing access to information on millions of topics to anyone with Internet capabilities.
2. Wikipedia is constantly updated by the hour. In comparison, print encylopedias are usually updated annually.
3. Wikipedia is a great place to start your research, giving you background information on your topic and possible keywords to help you conduct more in-depth research elsewhere.
4. Sources used in the articles are cited, allowing further investigation into any topic.