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ENG 258.01 - Long

What is Credo Reference?

Think of Credo like an academic Wikipedia. Like Wikipedia, it is focused on background research and serves as a tertiary source. Unlike Wikipedia, it pulls from a collection of professionally made Encyclopedias from around the world and offers you discrete entries from each.

Strengths of Credo

  • Entries in Credo have been written and edited by professionals.
    • There may still be mistakes, but they will be rare. Outright fabrications will be even less common.
  • Entries in Credo are stable.
    • Because they pull from professionally written sources, there is no back-and-forth on controversial topics, nor is there any page vandalism.
  • Entries in Credo pull from academic sources.
    • They will often provide a specific and explicit scholarly lens through which to view the information.
  • Entries in Credo come with an auto-cite in MLA, APA, and other popular formats.
  • Some entries in Credo will provide a 'Further Reading' section that recommends academic articles or books that go into more depth on the topic.

Weaknesses of Credo

  • Credo pulls from published encyclopedias.
    • Academic publishing of any sort is slow to update. Recent information or discoveries may not be reflected in the entries, or may be buried under older information.
  • Sources in Credo go through a professional editing and review process that depends heavily on academic credentials.
    • Historically, this process marginalized points-of-view from many different groups, including women and people of color.
  • Sources in Credo often reflect a singular viewpoint.
    • Because many sources were written by a single person or small group and passed through one editorial organization, you cannot see the conversations and the push-pull that went into the 'finished' product.
  • Some sources in Credo do not provide citations.


How to Use Wikipedia

Odds are, you are already familiar with Wikipedia. You may even chafe a bit when professors ask you not to use it. But what they are generally asking is that you don't stop at Wikipedia, not that you don't use it at all.  This page will give you some information on how to use Wikipedia properly in an academic context.

In Wikipedia's own article, "Academic Use," they give a good rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of the platform from an academic point-of-view. I recommend you check it out if you want to see Wikipedia's own reasoning for why you shouldn't use it as an academic source.

Strengths of Wikipedia

  • Wikipedia is constantly updating.
    • New developments are reflected immediately, with citations to back them up. Use those citations!
  • Anyone can edit Wikipedia.
    • This can give people from marginalized identities more control over their own narratives.
    • People outside the US and UK can more easily provide their own viewpoints.
  • Wikipedia makes its edit history public.
    • This lets you see points of contention in the discourse on any given topic.
  • Wikipedia often publishes very obscure information.
    • Because there is no page space limitations and contributors are volunteers, niche or obscure information can often be found in Wikipedia that may not be easily available in more mainstream encyclopedias.

Weaknesses of Wikipedia

  • Anyone can edit Wikipedia.
    • While vandalism is rare, it does happen. Same thing goes for just outright incorrect information.
    • The more 'active' a Wikipedia page is, the more likely you are to see vandalism, while you are less likely to see mistakes.
  • Wikipedia articles do not go through a professional editing or review process.
    • Because of this, there is no quality control process on articles. Some are written in incredibly technical language; others are overly broad and written by people with no expertise in that area.
  • The 'edits' page is hard to track.
    • While you can see conversations and track edits, the page is not the most intuitive or easy to read, and most people don't check it. This can erase the behind-the-scenes conversations that clue you in to controversial material.