Students should be allowed to use the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as it has become more accurate and trustworthy, its founder Jimmy Wales said in comments published by BBC Online Friday.
"You can ban kids from listening to rock 'n' roll music, but they're going to do it anyway," he was quoted as telling the Online Information conference in London this week.
"It's the same with information and it's a bad educator that bans their students from reading Wikipedia."
Wales's comments come amid continued questions over the accuracy of the site, where online users can write and update entries, compared with other, more authoritative paid-for sources like the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
He had previously said Wikipedia lacked the authority for academic work, because of often unsourced, biased or inaccurate information.
Students who copied information from the site deserved to be marked down, he told the BBC in 2005.
But new fact-checking procedures introduced since then, including real-time peer reviews, had made Wikipedia more trustworthy, he said.
"There is no substitute for peer critique," he told delegates.
As long as an article contained accurate citations, he saw "no problem" with students using it as a reference work, although he added that academics would "probably be better off doing their own research".