Wikipedia:Reliable sourcesThis page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should follow, though it should be treated with common senseand the occasional exception. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page. Shortcuts:
WP:RELIABLE This page in a nutshell: Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.
This is a guideline discussing the reliability of particular types of sources. The relevant policies on sources are Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research, and additional restrictions in biographies of living people. Wikipedia articles should cover all major and significant-minority views that have been published by reliable sources. See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.
Wikipedia articles should use reliable, third-party, published sources. Reliable sources are credible published materials with a reliable publication process; their authors are generally regarded as trustworthy or authoritative in relation to the subject at hand. How reliable a source is depends on context. As a rule of thumb, the more people engaged in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing, the more reliable the publication. Sources should directly support the information as it is presented in an article and should be appropriate to the claims made; if an article topic has no reliable sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on it. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard for queries about the reliability of particular sources.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Scholarship
- 3 News organizations
- 4 Self-published sources
- 5 Extremist and fringe sources
- 6 Reliability in specific contexts
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
Articles should rely on reliable, third-party published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. This means that we only publish the opinions of reliable authors, and not the opinions of Wikipedians who have read and interpreted primary source material for themselves. These specific examples cover only some of the possible types of reliable sources and source reliability issues, and are not intended to be exhaustive. The appropriateness of any source always depends on the context, which is a matter of common sense and editorial judgment.
- Further information: Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable_sources
Many Wikipedia articles rely upon source material created by scientists, scholars, and researchers. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine and science, although some material may be outdated by more recent research, or controversial in the sense that there are alternative theories. Material from reliable non-academic sources may also be used in these areas, particularly if they are respected mainstream publications. Wikipedia articles should strive to cover all major and significant-minority scholarly interpretations on topics for which scholarly sources exist, and all major and significant-minority views that have been published in other reliable sources. The appropriateness of any source always depends on the context. Where there is disagreement between sources, their views should be clearly attributed in the text.
- Material that has been vetted by the scholarly community is regarded as reliable; this means published in peer-reviewed sources, and reviewed and judged acceptable scholarship by the academic journals.
- Items that are signed are preferable to unsigned articles.
- The scholarly credentials of a source can be established by verifying the degree to which the source has entered mainstream academic discourse, for example by checking the number of scholarly citations it has received in google scholar or other citation indexes.
- In science, single studies are usually considered tentative evidence that can change in the light of further scientific research. How reliable a single study is considered depends on the field, with studies relating to very complex and not entirely-understood fields, such as medicine, being less definitive. If single studies in such fields are used, care should be taken to respect their limits, and not to give undue weight to their results. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews, which combine the results of multiple studies, are preferred (where they exist).
Material from mainstream news organizations is welcomed, particularly the high-quality end of the market, such as the The Washington Post, The Times of London, and The Associated Press. However, great care must be taken to distinguish news reporting from opinion pieces. Opinion pieces are only reliable for statements as to the opinion of their authors, not for statements of fact. When citing opinion pieces from newspapers or other mainstream news sources, in-text attribution should be given. When adding contentious biographical material about living persons that relies upon news organizations, only material from high-quality news organizations should be used.
- Main article: WP:V#SELF
Self-published sources may be used only in very limited circumstances; see above.
Extremist and fringe sources
- Main article: Wikipedia:Verifiability#Questionable_sources
- Further information: Wikipedia:Fringe theories
Organizations and individuals that express views that are widely acknowledged as extremist should be used only as sources about themselves and in articles about themselves or their activities; any information used must be directly relevant to the subject. The material taken from such sources should not be contentious, and it should not involve claims made about third parties, unless those claims have also been published by reliable sources. Articles should not be based primarily on such sources.
Organizations and individuals that promote what are widely agreed to be fringe theories (that is, views held by a small minority, in direct contrast with the mainstream view in their field), such as revisionist history or pseudoscience, should only be used as sources about themselves or, if correctly attributed as being such, to detail the views of the proponents of that subject. Use of these sources must not obfuscate the description of the mainstream view, nor should these fringe sources be used to describe the mainstream view or the level of acceptance of the fringe theory. When using such sources, reliable mainstream sources must be found in order to allow the dispute to be characterized fairly, presenting the mainstream view as the mainstream, and the fringe theory as a minority fringe view.
Reliability in specific contexts
Biographies of living persons
- Main article: Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Sources
Editors must take particular care when writing biographical material about living persons, for legal reasons and in order to be fair. Remove unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material immediately if it is about a living person, and do not move it to the talk page. This applies to any material related to living persons on any page in any namespace, not just article space.
Claims of consensus
Claims of consensus must be sourced. The claim that all or most scientists, scholars, or ministers hold a certain view requires a reliable source. Without it, opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources.
Usage by other sources
How accepted, high-quality reliable sources use a given source provides evidence, positive or negative, for its reliability and reputation. The more widespread and consistent this use is, the stronger the evidence. For example, widespread citation without comment for facts is evidence of a source's reputation and reliability for similar facts, while widespread doubts about reliability weigh against it. If outside citation is the main indicator of reliability, particular care should be taken to adhere to other guidelines and policies, and to not unduly represent contentious or minority claims. The goal is to reflect established views of sources as far as we can determine them.
See Wikipedia:Reliable source examples for examples of the use of statistical data, advice by subject area (including history, physical sciences, mathematics and medicine, law, business and commerce, popular culture and fiction), and the use of electronic or online sources.
- Wikipedia:Check your facts, essay
- Wikipedia:Common knowledge, essay
- Wikipedia:Independent sources, essay
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check
- Wikipedia:Citing sources
- Wikipedia:No original research
- How to Read a Primary Source, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, Patrick Rael, 2004.
- How to Read a Secondary Source, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, Patrick Rael, 2004.
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The Associated Press