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Debating reliable sources: writing the history of the Vietnam War on Wikipedia

Brendan Luyt (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Department: School of Communication & Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 11 May 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use selected discussions appearing on the talk pages of the Wikipedia entry on the Vietnam War to shed light on how the wider epistemological context of this online encyclopaedia affects the nature of debate about sources and subsequently how this knowledge could be used to improve information literacy instruction.

Design/methodology/approach

My broad approach to the study of the Wikipedia talk pages on the Vietnam War is qualitative in nature and explores the debate over sources through a textual analysis.

Findings

Although much of the debate over sources is conducted without acrimony, the level of analysis one finds in the talk pages is rather shallow while the attention of individual contributors is not overly concentrated.

Originality/value

There have been few studies of individual Wikipedia entries and their talk pages, rather the focus of most of the literature has been on a broad overview of the entire encyclopaedia or a concentration on a set of entries for a particular topic area.

Keywords

Citation

Luyt, B. (2015), "Debating reliable sources: writing the history of the Vietnam War on Wikipedia", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 3, pp. 440-455. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-11-2013-0147

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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