Because of Wikipedia‘s popularity and its ease-of-use, similar sites for scholars are popping up such as citizendium.org, open-site.org, and Google’s knol. This week, we are reviewing one such site – Scholarpedia.org.
Scholarpedia‘s founders compare the site to an online journal, stating
“initial authorship and review are similar to a print journal so that Scholarpedia articles [can] be cited, articles are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators. This allows Scholarpedia to be up-to-date, yet maintain the highest quality of content.”
The site was developed as a reliable tool for scholars to reference and share information and has so far attracted 4,787 scholars to author articles on its site, including 15 Nobel Laureates and 4 Fields Medalists. It is maintained by a board of editors who peer review every article submitted. Unlike Wikipedia, authors must either be invited to write for the wiki by the Editor-in -Chief, Curators (scholars and authors in charge of maintaining one or more articles), or must be elected by an appropriate Scholarpedia member and submitted to a vote of these same members (i.e. scholars, authors, editors, etc).
Anyone can sign up for an account, which enables them to submit changes of articles to curators, set their own defaults for functions such as searching and editing, save articles to a ‘watchlist’ which will notify the user if any of the selected articles have been updated or changed, no RSS feed however, is yet available which would be a convenient addition for many scholars.
Eventually a user can gain a high enough ‘scholar level’, through use of the site, recommendations to curators, and a demonstrated knowledge in the area, to become an editor or curator themselves.
Articles can be easily found through the search tool, however some customization of this may be necessary. The default searches are only for “Title” or “full text”, however if you would like to search for authors or subject areas specifically you will need to change this in your account defaults. A good index of authors, subjects and full text articles is available, making information easy to find.
A drawback of this site may be the limited focus on only a few fields, namely: Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems, Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence, Encyclopedia of Astrophysics, and Encyclopedia of Physics. Scholarpedia does hope to expand its range in the future to a wider variety of science and social science disciplines in an effort to work towards its goal of “be[ing] an authoritative, scholarly, open, and topical reference for all the world’s academic knowledge”.