Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopaedia Britannica

Librarians have a keen interest in the authority of sources. We teach students to evaluate sources all the time; even government sources. Library faculty teach students to consider the source, focus on quality, look for evidence, check for currency and examine a source for bias. A topic of hot debate in our profession is the accuracy of Wikipedia versus the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Nature: International weekly journal of science published a study comparing the two sources. The study initiated great debates among librarians about the reliability of Wikipedia. Encyclopaedia Britannica refuted the findings on encyclopedic accuracy reported by in Nature.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comments about Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia are interesting.

Encyclopaedia Britannica did not think that an open source product like Wikipedia would significantly challenge the credibility of its brand. They were dead wrong and Encyclopaedia Britannica's staff seriously misread the global market. They are now very concerned about the widespread use of a free Wikipedia vs their paid subscription model. From a corporate and financial perspective, Encyclopaedia Britannica is in significant trouble.

It will be interesting to see if Encyclopaedia Britannica survives, but recent indications do not look good. It is the combination of a) the success of Wikipedia and b) improved search engines that has put financial pressure on Encyclopedia Britannica over recent years. Many libraries, schools & individuals are questioning the need to pay for sets of expensive books, or to subscribe to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, when the content is free on the internet, and much more comprehensive.