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Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:11 pm
by bdm261
I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:15 pm
by rinkrat19
I think it's fine for looking up a plain-language explanation of legal terms, especially quickly in class. Obviously it's not something you should be citing, ever. But by putting it in plain language, it may be oversimplified or missing something, or just interpreted differently than your professor interprets it. For exams you want to depend more on your actual notes, outlines, and published supplements like E&E or Glannon.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:16 pm
by JuTMSY4
bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


you're going to get a mixed bag of responses (and hilarity) here. Frankly, it doesn't matter who frowns upon what. If wikipedia gets your through a cold call that's great. Not ideal for exams, but a law school's defacto wikipedia is hand-me-down outlines and if you think about it, it's not all that different.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:37 pm
by AreJay711
Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:45 pm
by unlicensedpotato
bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


Wikipedia is great. You can't cite to it, as was mentioned earlier. But other than that, it's very reliable. One of our professors would routinely ask questions about definitions and historical events based on the reading and the answers he gave were what he had found on wikipedia.
Looking beyond law school, tons of research at firms is done on google, wikipedia, etc. Use common sense and look elsewhere for confirmation but wikipedia is a great starting point.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:06 pm
by utlaw2007
unlicensedpotato wrote:
bdm261 wrote:I'm still a 0L, >1 month to go. I have all my textbooks and started my reading assignments though. When I come upon a case in the casebook, I typically search it in Google which brings up casebriefs.com or any other number of law school case brief websites. I also bring up the wiki pages, especially for new principles or theories such as "unconscionability," or "unjust enrichment," or "expectation damages." Anyone else have a similar or better strategy and is Wikipedia reliable for law school?


Wikipedia is great. You can't cite to it, as was mentioned earlier. But other than that, it's very reliable. One of our professors would routinely ask questions about definitions and historical events based on the reading and the answers he gave were what he had found on wikipedia.
Looking beyond law school, tons of research at firms is done on google, wikipedia, etc. Use common sense and look elsewhere for confirmation but wikipedia is a great starting point.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:28 pm
by mr.hands
Everything that has already been said is correct. It's all you need to know.

Don't cite it. It's a good personal reference tool/background

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:30 pm
by Nightrunner
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:37 pm
by Tiago Splitter
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:40 pm
by ScottRiqui
Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:12 am
by PRgradBYU
ScottRiqui wrote:Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.


Story of my UG career right there.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:05 am
by AreJay711
ScottRiqui wrote:Obviously, if you're ever tempted to cite Wikipedia, don't. But there's nothing keeping you from reading the works/articles cited in the Wiki page and citing those yourself if they're appropriate.


Although I got cutesy on a seminar paper last year and cited Wikipedia in a footnote . . . with a citing parenthetical to a real source which I then discussed. It didn't hurt my grade.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:17 am
by Clearly
The trick is to use the references used BY wikipedia.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:59 am
by hephaestus
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

This is the truth. It's useless for most other classes though.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:31 am
by Devlin
rinkrat19 wrote:I think it's fine for looking up a plain-language explanation of legal terms, especially quickly in class. Obviously it's not something you should be citing, ever. But by putting it in plain language, it may be oversimplified or missing something, or just interpreted differently than your professor interprets it. For exams you want to depend more on your actual notes, outlines, and published supplements like E&E or Glannon.


Spot on.

No shame in using wiki or casebriefs.com throughout the semester. Hell, most of the time I would just copy and paste casebriefs.com and use that as a case brief. However, they should not replace reading the actual case book, taking excellent notes, reading supplements and doing practice exams.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:32 pm
by ash0117
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.


THIS.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:58 pm
by Bronck
ash0117 wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Wiki is great for Con law. Seriously.

+1.


THIS.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:21 am
by Scotusnerd
Wikipedia? Pfft, I use google to look up confusing legal questions I have. Amazingly, it works.

Wikipedia is pretty good too. Just don't actually cite to it in your writing. Professors will lose their shit.

Re: Is Wikipedia frowned upon as research tool in law school?

Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:29 am
by DocHawkeye
Before law school, I taught at a community college. My course "The History of American Popular Music" might as well have been "What Wikipedia Says You Should Know About Rock and Roll." Wikipedia is like masturbation - everybody does it, nobody admits it, and its embarrassing as hell if you get caught so just be sure to clean up after yourself.