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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Wikipedia (EN): Find out more

General information


How do I search Wikipedia?

 You can use the search box in Wikipedia, but also in general search engines such as Google Wikipedia articles appear in the list of results.

Basic search method in Wikipedia:

  •  Wikipedia uses AND as standard search method, so combines the terms you entered
  •  Truncates word stem with *
  • Searches word(s) in the title of the article with the search term intitle

Advanced search

You can perform an advanced search via portal contents.

If you want to find all pages with your search term(s) and not just the page containing your term(s) as exact title, add a tilde (~) to your query (it does not matter where).

Wikipedia has a page with advanced search options, for instance the talk pages, overview pages (portals) or pages about registered Wikipedia users.

If Wikipedia does not have an article with the exact terms in the title, you will be shown results which have the terms in the text.

Still not found what you are looking for? Try to:

  • Use less (specialistic) terms
  • Broaden your search query by adding alternatives to your search terms in an OR relation (for instance segregation OR discrimination)
  • Broaden your search query by taking word variations into account, either in an OR relation (for instance  segregation OR segregated, or by truncating your search terms on the word stem with an *, (for instance segregat*)
  • Try other spellings
  • Try another language version of Wikipedia
  • Use other reference works





Can I cite from articles in Wikipedia?

As a rule you are allowed to cite anything you want, but there are two conditions:


  • the role the article plays in your paper matches the character and level of the article: if you build your paper on conclusions form an article you have read, the quality of that article must be beyond any doubt
  • you cite the article because it plays a substantial part in your paper, not because you want show off or boost citation figures

However, in science citing reference works such as encyclopedias is not a common practice. Exceptions to this rule are:

  • if there is no other source available (but in the case of Wikipedia not very likely, because all articles should have source references);

  • if the article in the reference work is your object of study, in other words: if you study the way in which a subject in a reference work is dealt with

Each Wikipedia article has a cite button in the left margin to generate a reference in a certain citation style.

Quality of Wikipedia

Quality of Wikipedia as a whole

As to the quality of a language version of Wikipedia as a whole, Wikipedia has developed a standard: article depth:

Article depth mainly indicates the extent of collaboration on articles. It is closely connected to the size of the language area, but also to the culture of the Wikipedia community in that particular language area. It is clear that the Dutch Wikipedia has a greater need for article depth.


Quality of separate Wikipedia articles

For a quick impression of the quality of separate articles you could check:

  • Articles in several language versions of Wikipedia via ManyPedia. Articles are often available in other languages and may vary widely as to size and contents
  • Via  recent changes and recent changes patrol you can view new pages and recent changes. Follow changes live via the Real time edit stream van Wikistream
  • the talk pages: what is the level of discussion?
  •  WikiTrust: a plug-in for Firefox which gives colour codes to text parts based on the number of edits by key authors: the more orange the text, the less edits have been made.


Wat about Wikipedia's quality control?

  • Articles are read and edited by more persons so that mistakes can be repaired
  • If an article has little text or no source references a warning is usually placed at the top of the article
  • Pages in which adjustments are continually removed and added again ('editing wars') can be frozen.
  • If a subject is controversial, for instance global warming sometimes a new article is written in which the controversy is the subject (global warming controversy)
  • Editors and IP numbers can be blocked. In the Netherlands IP ranges of universities for instance are permanently blocked against abuse.


Info elsewhere

Wikipedia as tool for generating search terms

Wikipedia is very useful in the exploratory phase of a research project. It is especially helpful in generating search terms. You can easily discover key concepts, related subjects, personal names and more.


Use Wikipedia to generate search terms by:


  • searching for your main subject (preferably in the Wikipedia language version that covers your subject best)
  • reading the article and writing down important concepts
  • following links in the 'related articles' section and scan those articles for possible terms to include in your search
  • following links in the 'subject categories' section to articles that might also give you ideas for search terms


simpel door Wikipedia browsen met Wikimindmap