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November 16, 2006

Scholarpedia: a Peer-Reviewed Wiki

Scholarpedia is another attempt to combine the openness of Wikipedia with attribution and peer review. (Thanks to Wolfram Horstmann.) Launched on February 1, 2006, it predates Citizendium, which only launched last week. From the front page:

Scholarpedia feels and looks like Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Indeed, both are powered by the same program - MediaWiki. Both allow visitors to review and modify articles simply by clicking on the edit this article link.

However, Scholarpedia differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways:

A. Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).

B. Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.

C. Each article has a curator - typically its author -- who is responsible for its content.

D. Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version....

In Scholarpedia, every article has a person who takes care of its content and whose reputation becomes associated with this content, the Curator. The job of a curator is to moderate revisions of an article, accepting those that are relevant and rejecting those that are not. In some sense, a curator of an article in Scholarpedia is like a curator of a museum: He/she has to evaluate all new additions and decide which are worth public exhibition and which are not. A curator’s name and affiliation is clearly stated below the title of an article, so that his or her reputation guarantees the accuracy of the article....

Curators of Scholarpedia are leading experts in their respective fields, typically having Ph.D. or M.D., and affiliated with an academic or research organization....

In the initial phase of Scholarpedia, the curators are invited by the editor-in-chief. Curators can then elect other scientists to become curators of Scholarpedia – a practice used by many professional societies, such as the Society for Neuroscience....

Currently, Scholarpedia hosts Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems and Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence. Although all three will eventually be published in a printed form, they will also remain freely available and modifiable online.

For a sense of its quality, click for a random page a few times.

Source: Peter Suber News Blog

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