An Analysis of Encyclopaedia Citations in University of Auckland Doctor of Philosophy Dissertations (2007 and 2008)
It is currently unknown to what extent encyclopaedias are cited in academic research in New Zealand. To provide preliminary findings on the use of encyclopaedias in university research and offer some evidence relating to the use of collaborative encyclopaedias in academic research, a quantitative empirical study of citations of encyclopaedias in 147 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Dissertations from the University of Auckland was made. Results included finding citations to encyclopaedias made up a very small (n = 23, or 0.1% in 2007; n = 62, or 0.3% in 2008) proportion of total citations. Of these, traditional style encyclopaedias were more frequently (61%) used than collaborative (39%) style encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia and the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy of Education. Wikipedia, a general, collaborative, and on-line format encyclopaedia, received the highest number of citations (n = 32). By subject, Computer Science and Statistics listed the highest number of 14 citations to Wikipedia; Engineering (Software, Mechanical and Electrical and Electronic) had 8 Wikipedia citations; English, French, Political Studies and Theology received 9 citations; and Nursing included one citation to Wikipedia. With the widely known concerns expressed about the suitability of citing Wikipedia at any level of academic research, it is surprising that this study found (albeit small) a measurable level of citations to Wikipedia in PhD dissertations in New Zealand. The results of this study may be useful to university librarians and faculties in training students before they begin research for higher degrees.