The easy way forward takes a student to Google which always leads to Wikipedia. Through the lens of curiosity, this is an unfortunate collision. Curiosity can move an individual through a breath-taking landscape of possibility, while a quick and dirty trip to Google and Wikipedia can blunt our desires.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition for an encyclopedia:
However, the OED is gracious enough not to tell us that not all encyclopedias are created equal! Fortunately, encyclopedia entries are written by humans. In a trustworthy reference source, these human authors lend their name to what they have written, along with providing an author note, giving an overview of their knowledge credentials. Wikipedia does not offer these quality assurance measures.
As an example, no author is willing to take responsibility for the information under the search heading Islamic Revolutionary Guard. This is a good thing because there are only limited safeguards given for the information contained in this Wikipedia entry. The article is rated as "semi-protected." This means that the words in the entry may be altered by individuals with prejudices and sinister motives.
Wikipedia cannot be trusted and should not be read.
A "semi-protected" information source serves to promote fake news.
An encyclopedia is defined as a "work containing extensive information on all branches of knowledge..." Because our world of knowledge is so vast, it is appropriate to rely on specialized encyclopedias, ones that concern themselves with only a few branches of knowledge. Fortunately, the library offers collections where several reference sources are grouped together. In our example, the entry for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard is taken from the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, found in the Credo Reference Collection.
Unlike in Wikipedia, this entry for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard was written by a named author, with an author note. Saeid Golkar is a lecturer on Middle East and North African studies at Northwestern University and is a Senior Fellow of Iran Policy affiliated with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. More will be said about Professor Golkar in the following pages.
Therefore, this entry passes the quality assurance test.
The words of Professor Golkar will always be the words of Professor Golkar.