Another Specialty ‘Pedia — Scholarpedia

A big tip o’ the nib to J’s Scratchpad for the pointer to Scholarpedia, which is a peer-reviewed ‘pedia written by scholars. It’s available at . (Scholarpedia is currently focused on developing three documents: Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems and Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence.)

Scholarpedia looks very much like Wikipedia except for the big Woodsy Owl logo. The content is much different too — editing is tighter than Wikipedia. Articles are written by an expert who is invited or elected by the public. Each article has a curator who is responsible for its content, and all changes to the article must be approved by the curator before appearing in the article’s final version. (Discussion pages for articles do not appear to be moderated.)

As you might imagine, this serious limits the scope of Scholarpedia. On the other hand, it answers many of the objections to the more open Wikipedia.

I took a look at a few random pages to get an idea of what was available here. The first page I pulled up was “Thalamocortical Oscillations”, which actually has two curators. The article, as far as I can tell, is extensive with a huge number of references. Changes to the page have been slow, with the last changes taking place in June. Wikipedia does not have an article by that title, though a search for that name found another page called “Thalamocortical Dysrhythmia”.

“Saddle-node Bifurcation” has a single curator in the Netherlands and a lot of mathematical formulas (and no revisions that I can see.) Wikipedia also has a Saddle-node Bifurcation page, with different material and what appears to be an animated gif to explain concepts.

It’s probably not fair to compare the two resources: Scholarpedia will never be able to get to the size of Wikipedia because of its self-imposed rules and limitations. On the other hand, it’s done a fantastic job of attracting experts to the site. Wouldn’t it be terrific if universities could establish a relationship with this site, to republish learning materials and lectures in conjunction with individual entries? Maybe the axiom “Publish or perish” could be amended “‘Pedia or Perish”…

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