advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Today’s Tip: Don’t take Wikipedia at face value

I nearly wrote “The King is dead. Long live the King.” as the title of this post, but Wikipedia is definitely NOT dead. It is a very useful resource for a quick look at a topic, name, date, person, or fact that you intend to verify.

Legal research requires work. Use crowd sourced data just like you would any other source – not as the sole point of information. Verify the black letter statement of the law in a legal encyclopedia by reading and noting up authorities referenced in the footnotes. Verify the content and point of view in a journal article or CLE paper by reading and noting up authorities referenced in the footnotes. Verify the content and point of view of a textbook or loose-leaf service by reading and noting up authorities referenced in the footnotes. I am sure you recognize the theme. “Trust, but verify.”

“Trust, but verify” is a quote attributed to Ronald Regan at Wikipedia. Thinkexsist.com attributes “Trust, but verify” to American writer Damon Runyon. My old copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (published in 1980) doesn’t contain this quote so I leave it to the curious readers among you to verify.

Thanks to my colleague Ed for the idea for this post.

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