Where students once were confined to the University library, they are now at liberty
to wander through cyber-space at will. There is evidence to suggest that student have
been very quick to exploit the opportunities that the Internet can offer them. Students
frequently cited search engines such as Google and Web 2.0 information sharing sites
such as Wikipedia as the first places they look when seeking information for an assignment.
Although a number of disciplines have accepted that Wikipedia can be viewed as an
accurate and legitimate evidence source nurse educators tend to view Wikipedia with
a degree of suspicion. The purpose of this paper is to carry out an exploratory study
of health and health related content on a sample of Wikipedia site with the overall
intention of assessing the quality of their source and supporting information. A 10%
sample of health related Wikipedia entries were evaluated, with a total of 2598 references
assessed. In total 1473 (56%) of the references citied on the Wikipedia pages reviewed
could be argued to come from clearly identifiable reputable sources. This translates
to a mean number of reputable sources of M=29 per Wikipedia entry. The quality of
the evidence taken obtained from the 2500 plus references from over 50 Wikipedia pages
was of sufficiently sound quality to suggest that, for health related entries, Wikipedia
is appropriate for use by nursing students.
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