When I was a student, had I written research papers and cited Wikipedia as a source, my professors would have laughed. Wikipedia is often times criticized for its inaccuracies, and brushed off into the “non-scholarly” section, yet even “real” encyclopedias like the Encyclopedia Britannica make mistakes. In fact, there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to the errors in Encyclopedia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia… imagine that!
On the page before they get into some of the examples, they note that the examples serve as a reminder that no encyclopedia is 100% error-free. It also points out the advantage that Wikipedia has because when an error is found, anybody can correct it at any time. There will always be concerns over the reliability of Wikipedia, but this page lists some of the instances when Wikipedia was right, and EB was wrong.
Now, Encyclopedia Britannica could certainly do the same thing and point out all of the instances where Wikipedia was wrong. The point is, however, that neither source is 100% perfect and each will have their own mistakes. For those who automatically dismiss Wikipedia as a reliable source, you may want to reconsider.
There have also been studies done which show that Wikipedia’s accuracy matches that of Britannica. Knowing that, I think it deserves more credit than what some are willing to give it. I have always liked all of the in-depth information that you can get from Wikipedia versus the usually small snippets of information found in other encyclopedia. I think the key to using Wikipedia is knowing how to use it, keeping in mind that while it does in fact have many inaccuracies, it has mounds of accurate information as well.