6 Wikipedia

When researching a topic, Wikipedia  should be approached with caution, especially with articles that are covering contentious subjects or evolving events; however, it is a useful source to get a consensus viewpoint on a subject. Because the Wikipedia community has strict rules about sourcing facts to reliable sources, and because authors must adopt a neutral point of view, its articles are often the best available introduction to a subject on the web.

If you can find a claim expressed in a Wikipedia article, you can almost always follow the footnote for the claim to a reliable source. Scholars, reporters, and students can all benefit from using Wikipedia to quickly find authoritative sources for claims.

For example, the Canada–U.S. softwood lumber dispute is one of the largest and most enduring trade disputes between both nations. The heart of the dispute is the claim that the Canadian lumber industry is unfairly subsidized by federal and provincial governments, as most timber in Canada is owned by provincial governments. Canada has won several NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)  challenges involving softwood issues, but despite this, the US continues to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

At the end of the Wikipedia article, there are links to several authoritative sources. These sources include newspaper articles, Canadian and US government documents, and fact sheets. Using Wikipedia in this fashion is a quick way get to reputable sources on a topic.


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Web Literacy for College Students 2nd Ed Copyright © 2020 by NSCC and Michael A. Caulfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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