Help:Frequently Asked Questions
See also Help:Contents
What is Scholarpedia?
Scholarpedia is a project to assemble a scholarly wiki-based encyclopedia. It aims to complement (not replace) Wikipedia by assembling scholarly review articles written and maintained by those most qualified to do so.
Why should I devote time and energy to Scholarpedia instead of Wikipedia?
We love and use Wikipedia, but we recognize that it isn't a scholarly resource, nor should it be. Academics should have a resource based in a tradition of expert peer-review, a resource that fits the knowledge and skills we have developed over decades. Scholarpedia employs the same basic workflow that academics will be familiar with: a scholarly review article gets written, undergoes peer-review, and is subsequently published. Then, through curatorship, the author's expertise is recognized by having him or her curate the article, ensuring that any updates to it preserve the its accuracy.
Furthermore, thanks to Scholarpedia's prominence, an article here is usually highly ranked in search results whenever its title is queried (e.g. try hemineglect or Bayesian statistics). Articles at Scholarpedia thus serve a valuable role online, providing information to the public from those most qualified to disseminate it.
How does an article get "published"?
Authors may be invited to write an entry, or they can propose to write an entry themselves. If they opt to self-propose, they (and the topic they intend to cover) must first be successfully sponsored by an Editor or Curator.
After the article is written it undergoes peer-review. Since article approval is public, authors can choose to invite a Scholarpedia Curator to approve their article for publication. They can also choose, however, to recruit the help of an Editor to find appropriate reviewers outside of Scholarpedia. As soon as the article receives enough public approvals (currently two) without being rejected it is assigned a DOI and is published that month in the Scholarpedia Journal (ISSN 1941-6016).
How does semi-anonymous peer-review work?
Reviewer anonymity is a key aspect of traditional peer-review, permitting reviewers to criticize freely without fear of retribution. However, in order to allow Scholarpedia to avoid the constraints of a "top down" Editor-driven encyclopedia, it relies on Curators publicly vouching for article topics and contents. Our challenge has been to develop a system that allows reviewers to comment anonymously and reject articles when necessary without necessitating the involvement of an editor.
Thus, all reviewer involvement is, by default, public and fully attributed. When the need arises for anonymous criticism or article rejection, the following provides reviewers with anonymity (or, at the very least, plausible deniability):
- Article rejection is anonymous.
- Article rejection can be performed by any Scholarpedia editor, as well as any individual invited to review an article.
- Any individual invited to review an article can invite any other individual to review the same article.
- If a reviewer (or any person, for that matter) should like to comment anonymously on an article, they need only contact a Scholarpedia Editor and have this person relay the reviewer's comments.
Is Scholarpedia an encyclopedia or a journal?
As a gradually compiled encyclopedia, it is both. Like a journal, it has review articles that are published on a particular date. Like an encyclopedia, its contents are intended to be durable and not duplicated elsewhere. It is by being both an encyclopedia and journal that Scholarpedia is able to bridge traditional scholarly publishing with wiki-style collaboration and cumulative development.
What license is my article licensed under?
How is Scholarpedia funded?
Scholarpedia currently runs on a limited budget that covers basic maintenance and server costs. This funding is currently provided by Brain Corporation, which benefits from Scholarpedia's extensive coverage of topics in computational neuroscience.
How does article "Curatorship" work? What if I don't have time to maintain an article?
After publication, articles can be revised to reflect advances in the literature, with revisions ultimately under the control of the article's Curator. Articles can still be edited by any Scholarpedia user, however these edits are only visible once they have been approved.
All those who have successfully edited an article become Contributors to the article. After publication, edits need a unanimous approval of at least two of the article contributors (implicit approval), or approval from the article's Curator (explicit approval). If a Curator rejects a revision, the revision remains hidden, visible within the article's history but not appearing in it by default.
Whether article Curators choose to engage frequently or rarely to article maintenance, the article's community of Contributors is motivated to serve faithfully in the Curator's stead. Contributors receive credit whenever their judgment of an article matches the final judgment of the revision (by the Curator or community), and a Contributor receives a small penalty when their judgment is at odds with that of the Curator. Thus, even a Curator that engages only rarely with an article can be assured that his or her influence is nonetheless preserved.
How can I make a new article?
In real life, articles begin with an idea, it gets written, peer-reviewed, and is then published. The new Scholarpedia process is only slightly different. Here, the approval process is distributed. An author needs to do the following:
- Propose the title of the article by pressing 'propose a new article'.
- (optional) find agreeable co-authors -- this may be necessary if the proposer is not yet an established expert on the topic.
- Find a Sponsor (in future you will need to find TWO) from among the Scholarpedia base of Curators. This Sponsor agrees that the topic is scholarly and encyclopedic, the authorship credible, and the work is not a duplication of work already in Scholarpedia. Once your sponsor agrees, the article title is reserved for two months for you to finish it.
- When your article is ready for publication, your article's sponsor must review and approve it along with another Scholarpedia Curator whom you must find to do so. By approving an article, reviewers attest to the quality of its subject matter.
Wait, anyone can approve an edit to a Scholarpedia article?
Yes -- new Scholarpedia uses a "What Would Curator Do?" (WWCD) philosophy for each article. Anyone who successfully contributes to an article becomes a contributor and is able to approve or reject proposed article revisions. Contributors are ranked for correctly predicting whether a revision is eventually approved or rejected -- and the article Curator has the final say here. If a contributor's predictions of edit outcome are wrong more often than right, then the contributor loses the ability to approve or reject future revisions. Contributor status can be regained by submitting an edit to the article that ends up being approved.
How can I contribute to the source code?
Because this project is still very experimental, source code development (PHP, MySQL, MediaWiki) is proceeding privately, but we hope to open development to the public at some point in the future.
What is a Curator?
A Curator is the individual ultimately responsible for an article's accuracy. This person is a recognized authority on the topic, but need not necessarily have written the article himself/herself. During the article's preparation, article's sponsors and reviewers indicate who the (most) established expert is. The established expert becomes the article's Curator upon its approval (the established expert is the most established expert among the article's authors, and presumably among all world experts). Only authors that become Curators gain the privilege of sponsorship of other articles in Scholarpedia.
What is an Author?
An Author is an individual who made a substantive contribution to the writing of the article -- all authors' names appear in the article's official citation and in the article's entry in the Scholarpedia Journal. The person who proposed the article and all the people who agreed to co-author the article are its authors.
What is an Article Contributor?
Any user who has contributed to article, either by writing, sponsoring, reviewing, or successfully editing it, immediately becomes an Article Contributor (or simply "contributor") if they are not already the article's Curator. As an article contributor, the user can vote on proposed revisions (including their own). Because of this, any edits to an article by one of its contributors requires only one additional approval in order for the edit to eventually become visible to the public.
What is a Sponsor?
Before an article is written, authors can request "Sponsorship" from the existing body of Curators in order to reserve the topic involved. By acting as an article Sponsor, the Curator vouches that (1) the article is within the Curator's area of expertise, (2) at least one of the authors is the top authority in the field, and (3) the topic is encyclopedic and not redundant with respect to other existing Scholarpedia articles.
Who decides which articles will be accepted?
Article acceptance is decided, essentially, by the existing base of Scholarpedia Curators. The article is accepted if two curators accept it (one of the curators must be the original sponsor) and no editors rejected it.
I understand that there are no longer categories. Is this true?
No, categories remain, and Editors remain responsible for them, however formal Editor privileges are no longer tied to a particular category. Rather than impose restrictions, we have decide to trust our Editors to respect each others' projects.
Won't public reviewers be biased in favor of article approval?
Article reviewers can invite any individual whom they trust to participate in the review process anonymously. While the approval of this person is not required, he or she can comment on and choose to reject this article. The rejection process in Scholarpedia is anonymous. The 'Recent changes' list will show that 'The article XXX was rejected by an authorized user'.
How do we prevent non-notable articles from being accepted?
The requirement of sponsorship and review helps assure article notability, which is strengthened by the possibility that an article may be rejected anonymously. Notability is further assured through accountability: article sponsors and authors are listed at the bottom of each article, so that their reputation validates the article.
What prevents Curators from colluding with each other and producing dozens of potentially bad articles?
In the short term, it will be the responsibility of Scholarpedia Editors to prevent this from occurring, and in the long-term, automated mechanisms will be instituted that prevent such behavior: The reviewers of an article must be independent; that is, they cannot both be co-authors, sponsors, or reviewers of another article accepted within last month.
I have been a Curator of a Scholarpedia article in the original Scholarpedia -- what is my role in the new Scholarpedia?
Your article will be transferred to the new Scholarpedia, and you will continue to be listed as author. If you are a single author, you immediately become a Curator of the new Scholarpedia article. If you are one of multiple co-authors, we ask that you decide among yourselves who is the most senior -- in a large, multi-author scientific paper, this is often the "last author" or Principal Investigator. This individual will become the article's Curator, and the other authors will remain forever listed as the article's original authors.
Why does my MathJax look bad/weird/italicized?
If you're using OS X and Lion, this is a known problem. The easiest way to fix it is to open Font Book in OS X, select all the STIX fonts, disable them, and then restart your browser. The equations will then look beautiful.
FAQ for Assistant Editors
You may only write biographies of authors who have published an article in Scholarpedia.
If I have a problem, doubt, or question, whom should I contact?
When you first receive email confirmation that you are officially an Assistant Editor, you should also have been told the name and email of your supervisor. This person will be able to advise you on any matter. If you have forgotten the name of your supervisor or do not know who to contact, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I log in to my Scholarpedia email?
There is no more Scholarpedia email. All communications regarding Scholarpedia should preferably be made through your academic email.
How do I correct a typo or make a minor edit?
Click on the "Edit" button, above the article and to the left of the Scholarpedia search bar and edit the text appropriately. When finished, tick "this is a minor edit" at the bottom and then "show preview". Once you are happy with the way things look, scroll down again and click "save page". Click "view history", next to the search bar, and then "request approval" next to your modification.
How do I add an article to my watchlist?
To quickly add an article to your watchlist, go to the article and click on the blue star located in the upper right of the page (next to the search box). To manage your watchlist either click on the "My watchlist" link located above the blue button, or navigate to http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Special:Watchlist. Next, click on either the "View and edit watchlist" link (http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Special:EditWatchlist), or the "Edit raw watchlist" link (http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Special:EditWatchlist/raw).
What is the "My talk" page for?
Currently, the page is being used for the posting of reviews, and for the occasional proposed correction.
Hopefully, however, the talk pages will be made much more useful, and perhaps even serve as a platform of scholarly discussion regarding the current state of knowledge on a particular topic.
If I correct a typo or suggest a minor edit, how long will it take for the change to happen? What happens if I never get a response?