Eight out of 10 students say they use Wikipedia for background knowledge.

Eight out of 10 students say they use Wikipedia for background knowledge.

Wikipedia enthusiasts may have a new way to argue their case to professors skeptical of the online encyclopedia: Cancer researchers said in June that Wikipedia was nearly as accurate as a well-respected, peer-reviewed database, although the wiki entries were a bit more boring.

Yaacov Lawrence, an assistant professor in Thomas Jefferson University’s Department of Radiation Oncology in Philadelphia, examined 10 types of cancer and compared Wikipedia’s information to statistics in the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query, a peer-reviewed oncology database.

About 2 percent of the information from both web-based resources differed from textbook sources, Lawrence found. Lawrence used algorithms to judge the readability of each cancer entry, and based on word length and sentence length, the Wikipedia entries were much more difficult to comprehend.

He discussed his findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago, which ran from June 4-8.

Read the full story on eCampus News.