Scholarpedia is a peer-reviewed encyclopedia written by the leading experts of their respective fields. As an encyclopedia, it does not publish research papers or position papers, but, instead, is meant to serve as a repository for "living reviews" to be maintained by future generations of experts via a process of curatorship.
Step 1: Create a user account
- At the top right of the main page, click “Log in / create account.”
- Under “Log in,” click “create an account,” and then fill in all of the required fields.
Step 2: Propose an article
Click Propose a new article, and type in the proposed article title and deadline for completion. Your title should be short and encyclopedic.
The article will be created as a subpage of your user page.
Step 3: Find a sponsor
Your proposed article must be sponsored by an existing curator or editor of Scholarpedia. One way to find a sponsor is as follows:
- Search through Scholarpedia's current encyclopedias at http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Scholarpedia:Topics. Click on the link to the encyclopedia whose general topic most closely matches that of your proposed article.
- Search through the articles within that encyclopedia, and identify one whose topic is related to that of your proposed article. Click on the link to that article.
- In the upper right corner of the article page is the name of that article's curator. Click on that person's name, and you will arrive at his/her user page and find his/her email address.
- Email that curator to ask whether he/she is willing to sponsor your article. By sponsoring your article, he/she publicly attests that
- the topic you propose is encyclopedic and worthy of a new Scholarpedia article, and
- you are a top world expert on this topic and/or the original inventor of this topic.
- If the curator responds favorably, then invite him/her to sponsor your article by first opening your article page and clicking the "Invite Sponsor" link on the top toolbar. You will be shown a URL. Copy the URL, and email it to the curator.
An alternative way to find a sponsor (e.g., if you already have someone in mind and want to know whether that person is a Scholarpedia curator or editor) is to search through the lists of existing Scholarpedia curators (http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Special:ListCurators) and editors (at http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Main_Page, under "Active Editorial Board") and then follow steps 4 and 5 above.
Once your article is sponsored, it is moved from your user page subpage to the main Scholarpedia namespace. If another article with the same title reached "Sponsored" status before yours and is currently in development, then your article will be placed in a queue of articles waiting to take the place of the one currently in development should it be rejected.
Important: Once your article is sponsored, the deadline for getting the article written, reviewed, and approved is two months from the date when the article achieved "Sponsored" status.
- On your article page, click on the "Invite a co-author" button at the top left.
- You will then see an invitation link. Copy this link and email it to another expert on your article's topic.
Step 5: Write the article
Scholarpedia articles do not contain an abstract, introduction, discussion, or conclusion section. However, most articles do share common structural elements. In general, each article should:
- Start with a dictionary-like definition of the main topic (1 sentence to 1 paragraph long). This definition should be conceptually accessible to a broad audience of readers. For example:
- "A neuronal burst of spikes is two or more action potentials followed by a period of quiescence."
- "A dynamical system is a system whose state in any moment of time is a function of (1) its immediately previous state and (2) any input."
- Note: Please use <strong> ... </strong> to bracket the mention of the article's topic in its definition, as this will improve its ranking in Google search results.
- Progress from more basic to more advance concepts.
- Make good use of bullet points, tables, and diagrams.
- Be concise (2,000-4,000 words, not counting figure captions or references) but not terse.
- Include the following sections at the end: references, recommended reading, and related Scholarpedia articles. (See References below for more information.)
As entries in an encyclopedia, Scholarpedia articles should be written in "classic style" (as described in "Clear and Simple as the Truth" by Thomas & Turner, 1994, Princeton University Press).
In general, when writing your article, you should follow these guidelines:
- Avoid using first- and second-person (e.g., "I," "We," and "You").
- Target the article to advanced undergraduate students studying in the article’s area and graduate students in related areas.
- Anticipate and answer common questions a reader might ask about a topic (e.g., for an invention: who invented it, when, where, why, and how? What did the invention replace? What was its impact? Has it led to any notable successes or failures?). Notice that, e.g., Wikipedia articles are generally very successful in this regard.
- Mention any and all widely accepted alternative perspectives on issues of controversy.
- Explain only the terms unique to the article or not appropriately explained in other Scholarpedia articles. In all other cases, provide links to the appropriate Scholarpedia article. For instance, the article on Bursting does not explain concepts such as neurons, spikes, currents, and bifurcations, but instead links to other Scholarpedia articles for definitions of these terms.
- Avoid using abbreviations.
Step 6: Invite peer reviewers
When an article is ready for peer-review, press 'invite reviewer' on the dashboard. The article needs to be accepted by two existing Curators (an article Sponsor can also choose to serve as one of the article's reviewers).
In general, it is the responsibility of the team of article authors to find reviewers for their article and to persuade these reviewers to approve the article for publication before the two-month deadline. If the article deadline lapses, it returns to the "proposed" (unsponsored) state and the process of sponsorship and review needs to be restarted.
You may wish to direct the reviewers you invite to instructions for reviewers.
Step 7: Revise the article
Step 8: Approve the article for publication
After the article has been formally approved by two qualified reviewers, it will undergo a one-week cool-off period. During this period, editors of Scholarpedia have an opportunity to look over the article and ensure that it did not reach "published" status erroneously.
- After the cool-off period ends, one of the authors must approve the very first "official" version of the article for publication, by first clicking on the blue "Publish Article" button in the publication banner at the top of the article. (If this button is not enabled, the article may not have completed the cool-off period.)
- A pop-up will appear. The author should ensure that the order of the authors is correct within that pop-up and then select from the drop-down menu the author who will serve as the article's curator. The curator should be the most established expert on the article's topic, as it is this individual who will control the visibility of future revisions to an article.
- Click "Submit confirmation." The moment of final author approval is the time of official archival publication.