Skip to Main Content

MHS Library | Research

Wikipedia: reliable sources

"It ain't ignorance causes so much trouble; it's folks knowing so much that ain't so."

attributed to Josh Billings with variants[1] (Source: Wikipedia)

Below is an extract from the Wikipedia webpage: Wikipedia: Reliable sources/perennial sources

This is a non-exhaustive list of sources whose reliability and use on Wikipedia are frequently discussed. This list summarizes prior consensus and consolidates links to the most in-depth and recent discussions from the reliable sources noticeboard and elsewhere on Wikipedia.

Click here to check the list of sources.

Context matters tremendously, and some sources may or may not be suitable for certain uses depending on the situation. When in doubt, defer to the linked discussions for more detailed information on a particular source and its use. Consensus can change, and if more recent discussions considering new evidence or arguments reach a different consensus, this list should be updated to reflect those changes.

Reliability is an inquiry that takes place pursuant to the verifiability policy and the reliable sources guideline. Note that verifiability is only one of Wikipedia's core content policies, which also include neutral point of view and no original research. These policies work together to determine whether information from reliable sources should be included or excluded.

As a general rule, more reliable sources have more people engaged in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing in a publication. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources. Other reliable sources include university textbooks, books published by respected publishing houses, magazines, journals, and mainstream newspapers. (Be aware that some news organisations and magazines, such as CNN's iReport, host "blogs" and user-written articles on their websites. These may be reliable if they are written by the publisher's professional writers, but posts by readers are not usually considered reliable sources.)

Subject guide created by

Guide created by Tania Sheko. Contact me


Is Wikipedia a reliable source?

Why references are important? References are vital for the quality and usefulness of Wikipedia articles. If you don't believe me, don't take my word for it; At the Wikimania conference 2006Jimmy Wales himself said he believed Wikipedia should focus more on the accuracy of our existing material instead of creating new material. Since then, we have broken the 5 million article mark and there is still much room for improvement.

We tell people to not rely on Wikipedia as their sole source of information but rather use it as a starting point for further research. For this to work, articles not only need external links to guide readers to further information, but also a list of sources we used to write the Wikipedia article so the reader can go and check our material against that of the sources to check our accuracy. (Source)

Which news is most reliable?

News sources often contain both factual content and opinion content. News reporting from well-established news outlets is generally considered to be reliable for statements of fact (though even the most reputable reporting sometimes contains errors). News reporting from less-established outlets is generally considered less reliable for statements of fact. Most newspapers also reprint items from news agencies such as ReutersInterfaxAgence France-PresseUnited Press International or the Associated Press, which are responsible for accuracy. The agency should be cited in addition to the newspaper that reprinted it.

Editorial commentary, analysis and opinion pieces, whether written by the editors of the publication (editorials) or outside authors (op-eds) are reliable primary sources for statements attributed to that editor or author, but are rarely reliable for statements of fact. Human interest reporting is generally not as reliable as news reporting, and may not be subject to the same rigorous standards of fact-checking and accuracy (see junk food news).[6]

  • When taking information from opinion content, the identity of the author may help determine reliability. The opinions of specialists and recognized experts are more likely to be reliable and to reflect a significant viewpoint.[notes 2] If the statement is not authoritative, attribute the opinion to the author in the text of the article and do not represent it as fact. Reviews for books, movies, art, etc. can be opinion, summary or scholarly pieces.[7][8]
  • Scholarly sources and high-quality non-scholarly sources are generally better than news reports for academic topics. Press releases from the organizations or journals are often used by newspapers with minimal change; such sources are churnalism and should not be treated differently than the underlying press release. Occasionally, some newspapers still have specialist reporters who are citable by name. With regard to biomedical articles, see also Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine).
  • The reporting of rumors has a limited encyclopedic value, although in some instances verifiable information about rumors may be appropriate (i.e. if the rumors themselves are noteworthy, regardless of whether or not they are true). Wikipedia is not the place for passing along gossip and rumors.
  • Some news organizations have used Wikipedia articles as a source for their work. Editors should therefore beware of circular sourcing.[notes 3]
  • Whether a specific news story is reliable for a fact or statement should be examined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Multiple sources should not be asserted for any wire service article. Such sources are essentially a single source.
  • Some news organizations do not publish their editorial policies.
  • Signals that a news organization engages in fact-checking and has a reputation for accuracy are the publication of corrections and disclosures of conflicts of interest.  (source: Wikipedia)

List of the reliability of perennial sources, eg. Boing Boing, Ars Technica, BuzzFeed, CNN, The Conversation, Daily Mirror, The Economist, Forbes, Fox News, etc.