Refering Wikipedia as a source is growing
“Since its launch in 2001 Wikipedia has seen incredible growth worldwide, counting more than 21 million articles published in around 280 languages (including nearly 4 million articles in English) in 2012 (1).
Wikipedia has grown in size (number of Wikipedia entries/articles have been increasing over time) and is showing high reliability: a recent study (2) of historical entries found 80% accuracy for Wikipedia, compared to 95-96% for other sources. This means that for the entries checked in the study, Wikipedia contain on average only about 15% more errors than other sources including traditionally perceived authoritative sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica. The research found that this difference was negligible. Adding to this Wikipedia’s ease of access and wide coverage of topics explains why for many people it has become the first port of call for instant general knowledge on a variety of subjects. (…)
What is perhaps surprising is that Wikipedia appears to be increasingly used by scholars for their research. (…)
More interestingly, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of publications referring to Wikipedia as a source. The aforementioned recently published study limited the search results to mentions of Wikipedia as a reference title, but extending the search to all reference fields reveals much wider use even with restrictions to scholarly content published in journals . CAGR was an unbelievable 88% per annum since the first paper in 2002 to the 4006 papers published in 2011. Focusing on the past 5 years (2007-2011) CAGR was still impressive at more than 31% per annum.
Huggett, Sarah. The influence of free encyclopedias on science. Research Trends, March 2012. Available from: http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-27-march-2012/the-influence-of-free-encyclopedias-on-science/ [Accessed 23rd April 2012]