So, If I Can’t Use Wikipedia, What Do I Use?

April 1st, 2013

You’ve heard it before – you can’t use Wikipedia for this assignment.  This actually isn’t new – long before Wikipedia was invented, students in past generations were often banned from citing any encyclopedia for some assignments, because professors want students to use more in-depth sources.  But let’s say you really need a comprehensive encyclopedia for your work.  Where do you go?

 One great source is the Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition.  Like the print version, the Britannica is written by a large staff of trained professionals and editors, assuring high-quality coverage of any topic of human thought.  This large staff also means that current events articles are updated within two weeks of the event, so it’s a good source for scholarly information on time-sensitive topics, too – not just historical data.  All told, there are tens of thousands of articles and biographies.  Articles are loaded with illustrations and in-text hyperlinks, just like you’re familiar with in Wikipedia.  Plus, ImageQuest is Britannica’s library of more than two million pictures copyright-cleared for use in educational projects.

 britannica search page

But Wikipedia isn’t just encyclopedia entries.  What if you’re using one of its sister sites, like WikiQuote or Wiktionary?  Don’t worry.  The Britannica has an internal dictionary as well, in the form of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary & Thesaurus that matches the functionality of Wiktionary.  Accustomed to using WikiVoyage?  Try Britannica’s World Data Analyst.  WikiQuote is matched by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations.  Wikibooks?  Try Britannica’s Ebooks and Primary Sources.  And WikiNews is mirrored by links into BBC News and the New York Times.

 But Britannica has been designed with a college researcher in mind, as well.  Partnering with EBSCO academic databases, it contains more than 700 full text journal titles – try clicking on ‘Magazines’ to link into them.  And Britannica’s ‘Workspace’ option allows you to track and save your research – even share it with colleagues!

 If you need an encyclopedia for an assignment, the Britannica is a great place to start.  And if you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us at iueref@iue.edu!