An infographic with poorly sourced and inaccurate “facts.”

A week or so ago I received a request from someone suggesting that my blog readers might enjoy an infographic “about how Wikipedia is redefining the way we research,” and asking for my thoughts about it. This graphic, entitled “Wikipedia redefining research and eliminating encyclopedias” was posted on 3/15/2012 to Open Site and is making its way onto other websites.

I don’t disagree that Wikipedia is contributing to a change in the way we do research. What I do disagree with is pushing poorly researched promotional or “educational” materials that rely on misleading information. Since she asked for my thoughts, I wrote a reply and I share it here with you:

You should could [sic] have made the links in your list of sources clickable so people could more easily check your facts, which seem to have some serious problems.

For example, you say that library use is declining by 11%. But you got that figure from an article (link below) about library use of one single public library in concord NH. That same article contradicts your figure for nationwide use of libraries, and quotes the ALA’s “State of American Libraries” report. The 2011 “State of” report states that “The library-use figures that emerged from the poll were up several percentage points from a year earlier, testament both to Americans’ entrepreneurial spirit and libraries’ role in nourishing that spirit.”

The U Calgary website you link to is a wiki page that appears to be written by a group of students. Their credentials and affiliations are not provided; their information about libraries is naive and inaccurate; although they are from the U of Calgary they appear to be describing public libraries rather than academic libraries, yet their survey asks about campus libraries. They, like you, provide a list of links to resources but, like you, don’t provide direct citations for any of the “facts” you are sharing.

I’m not going into the information in the rest of your graphic because I can only assume the other figures you provide are equally untrustworthy as the ones I looked into.

Beware poorly sourced and inaccurate “facts.”