Chemical Information Media in the Chemistry Lecture Hall: A Comparative Assessment of Two Online Encyclopedias
Keywords:Chemical information, Quality assessment, Römpp online, Student survey, Wikipedia
AbstractThe chemistry encyclopedia Römpp Online and the German universal encyclopedia Wikipedia were assessed by first-year university students on the basis of a set of 30 articles about chemical thermodynamics. Criteria with regard to both content and form were applied in the comparison; 619 ratings (48% participation rate) were returned. While both encyclopedias obtained very good marks and performed nearly equally with regard to their accuracy, the average overall mark for Wikipedia was better than for Römpp Online, which obtained lower marks with regard to completeness and length. Analysis of the results and participants' comments shows that students attach importance to completeness, length and comprehensibility rather than accuracy, and also attribute less value to the availability of sources which validate an encyclopedia article. Both encyclopedias can be promoted as a starting reference to access a topic in chemistry. However, it is recommended that instructors should insist that students do not rely solely on encyclopedia texts, but use and cite primary literature in their reports.
How to Cite
L. Korosec, P. A. Limacher, H. P. Lüthi, M. P. Brändle, Chimia 2010, 64, 309, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2010.309.
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