Nov 102006

Scholarpedia, as described by itself:

Scholarpedia, the free peer reviewed encyclopedia written by scholars from all around the world.
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:

Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
Each article has a curator – typically its author — who is responsible for its content.
Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.

Herein also lies the greatest differences between Scholarpedia and traditional print media: while the initial authorship and review processes are similar to a print journal, articles in Scholarpedia are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators.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.

Scholarpedia is currently covering just three areas, computational neurodynamics, dynamical systems, and computational intelligence. They have some big names signed up to write articles (e.g. Lorenz on the Butterfly Effect, Mandelbrot on Fractals and Mandelbrot set, etc.) but every article I tried to look at just had a “coming soon” stub like this:

Picture 1-1

Remains to be seen whether Scholarpedia will prove any better at getting over-committed superstars to deliver on time than conventional publishers!

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