For John, BLUF: Papers? I don't write no stinking papers. Nothing to see here; just move along.
This article shows why students should not use Wikipedia as a source in a paper.
"Socially controversial science topics on Wikipedia draw edit wars". The sub-headline is "The accuracy of what you see depends on whether people are happy about a topic."
I think using Wikipedia for a quick overview is good. It is also a good source for looking for references to check out. But, as the story shows, it is not a guaranteed reliable source. Wikipedia "truth" can change from one minute to the next.
NATO has a good expression with regard to Doctrine, "It is authoritative but requires judgement in application".♠ I feel the same way about Wikipedia, except to add, don't cite it as an authoritative source in a paper—exploit it for all you can, including the footnotes, but don't cite it in your paper's footnotes or endnotes.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff
♠ AAP-6(V) NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions.