The Encyclopedia of Law is moving into its next phase. The Enyclopedia´s team is planning to expand to make the reference work even more relevant to all of your legal research needs. To launch this initiative, we are reaching out to our readers and asking you for suggestions for new entries.
Today, knowledge about law is scattered across databases, books, and journals worldwide. Legal researchers are often overwhelmed by lists of sites found by search engines or by lack of easy access to libraries and other storehouses of knowledge.
At the same time as academics have literally been giving away their life’s work, the public struggles to get access to up-to-date expert-vetted information. And thus the state of the art in the legal fields is diffusely distributed and available only to a privileged few. The expert consensus on a range of topics of vital importance, in some cases, has been hidden.
The Encyclopedia will create a “one-stop shopping” for authoritative secondary source legal information, offering the world at large a better understanding of the legal systems on Earth. It is being assembled by academics and legal professionals.
The authors of the Encyclopedia are assembling diverse kinds of information in an easy-to-use, ever-growing compendium. It can accommodate almost any kind of information about legal topics and specific legal systems and, unlike a published book, can be updated instantly.
A Reference for Universal Access
In Beta from 2010, the Encyclopedia of Law seeks to increase awareness and understanding of the law by gathering, generating and sharing knowledge in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource. Since its first entries (when it went online), the Encyclopedia has grown dramatically to now include trusted information on more than 200,000 entries. This leading reference work is supported by a community of curators and authors around the world.
The Encyclopedia is available for reuse and is licensed under Creative Commons and other Open Access free licenses.
The community of authors and curators is the base of this ambitious effort to create this unprecedented project, which aims to be an online secondary source of every one of Earth’s legal documents, major legislation, case law and other resources. For the first time in history, this reference work would grant academics, legal professionals, students, and others free access encyclopedic summaries to all legal topics, country by country, even those just enacted.
Over the next 10 years, the Encyclopedia of Law will create secondary sources Web entries, encyclopedic summaries, for all the legal topics, in each legal sytem known to exist on Earth. Built on the integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the Encyclopedia of Law will be freely available to all users everywhere, who can help to expand the Encyclopedia.
The Encyclopedia Today and in the Future
The first 200,000 entries of a massive online Encyclopedia of Law were unveiled at the beginning of 2014.
Intended as a tool for legal professionals, academics and students, and a fascinating resource for anyone interested in law-related fields, this Encyclopedia is being developed by a unique collaboration between academics and legal professionals.
By putting this information all together in one place, the leading reference work on law hopes to accelerate our understanding of any legal issue, everywhere. It aims not only to summarize all that we know about law worldwide, but also to accelerate the discovery of case law and other legal information that remain unknown in some countries. This great effort promises to lay out new directions for legal research.
The Encyclopedia “macroscope” may have a catalytic effect on comparative law and related fields. It may be also be the ultimate online legal field guide, complete with links to stable primary sources around the world.
Feedback on the first 200,000 entries will shape the ultimate design and functionality of all the future entries. It will also help inform priorities for content development.
The entries of the Encyclopedia, in most cases, provide bibliography, information about its classification position, and Index distribution, and links to
other sources of information. These entries are, in effect, placeholders to be populated with information validated by experts.
The team of Lawi strives to make this leading reference relevant, usable and interesting to a broad range of potential users and to encourage their participation by providing tools to organize and contribute observations, media and data about any legal issue.
The Encyclopedia is a work in progress. Not only are we constantly updating the existing content of the Encyclopeia, but we are also adding new entries every day. The rapid growth of law makes it exciting but also elusive. It takes many expert authors to keep pace with this evolution.
The content is growing at a rapid pace. The Encyclopedia plans to work on strengthening existing collaborations and building new relationships with contributors around the world. To that end, the Encyclopedia of Life will continue to add content, tools and features.
The Encyclopedia entries will continue to grow and be updated on a rolling basis. New entries will be authored to cover significant developments in law such as major new cases, agreement of significant new treaties, and the creation of new organizations and bodies.
Th Encyclopedia of Law applies an hybrid model that allows entries in the reference work to serve as a bridge between traditional peer-reviewed journals and more dynamic and up-to-date online publication without compromising quality or trustworthiness. It aims to remove the disincentives that discourage academics from participating in online publication and productive discussion on the topics they know best.
The Encyclopedia of Law does not aim to publish original “research” or “position” papers. The focus, rather, is on “living reviews”: encyclopedia articles written once but maintained over time by current and future generations of experts; reviews that track the development of the topics they summarize.
Articles are meant to be accessible to a wide range of readers, but also to be useful to any reader who desires deeper knowledge of a topic after having exhausted other online resources.
Enyclopedia of Law entries are at their best when they are concise but not abstruse; when they are accessible to advanced undergraduates familiar with the area, as well as to graduate students in adjacent fields.
By making each review article a public resource and providing tools for academic commentary and annotation, the articles themselves would become central venues in which academics could be assured that any contributions would be visible to their peers.
As an online reference, every entry would be a “living review”, subject to further revision as the field advances. Each entry would undergo peer review and archival publication. Once published, entries would be subject to curation by a recognized and established scholarly authority on the topic. Though the articles themselves would not constitute original research, site-based scholarly discussion regarding potential revisions would no doubt make reference to recent (and perhaps even original) arguments and data.
A central scholarly encyclopedia would also serve to empower the academy in the eyes of the public by making obvious the extent of academic consensus on a range of topics. This might be especially helpful in legal field, which can seldom deploy the power of demonstration to convince a broader audience. By consolidating vetted, trustworthy scholarly opinion, the Encyclopedia might unify online ground.
Authors Benefit (for Academics)
One of the greatest advantage of an expert encyclopedia system is the special nature of its development: each entry need only be written once, and thereafter serves as a permanent, living part of an online canon. Because contributing provides an immediate benefit to authors in the form of a published, citable, peer-reviewed scholarly article, such a resource need not rely on pure altruism for its growth.
Why would scholars pay any particular attention to the content of wiki-based scholarly reviews and the commentary that accompanies them? In a word: prominence. The Encyclopedia of Law demonstrates excellent performance in search engines. When long-tail titles from its entries are searched for, Encyclopedia of Law entries typically appear on several positions of the first pages of results.
It is, therefore, in a academic’s self-interest to, in the near term, use the Encyclopeida of Law as a venue for publishing reviews because it is a reliable means of gaining global visibility.
Therefore, write the first persistent online review or summary in your area of specialization.
Some reasons to consider contributing:
- Help discover what works in scholarly collaboration — participate in a global experiment on the future of scholarly research.
- Add a peer-reviewed article to your C.V.
- Support open-access publishing.
- Help the public — provide to the world an accurate article on a topic of importance to you.
- For posterity — be the author of a summary or review that will be useful for decades to come.
- To support interdisciplinary research — encourage others to participate in compiling a free, current, and scholarly online resource.
- To see your work appear in a normal search engine result — your article will likely appear within the top search results when its topic is queried.
- For Curatorship — become a topic Curator, and help ensure that the world has trustworthy information available to them on a topic of your expertise.
- To accelerate research — help science and scholarship advance more quickly by providing an easily accessible and updatable review.
- To promote scholarly information online — help resist the glut of redundant and generic online “content” with a substantive, thoughtful, and enduring contribution.
The Encyclopedia of Law operates as an ongoing collaboration of individuals and organizations who share the vision to provide global access to knowledge about law in every country on Earth.
Our Mission: Free Legal Knowledge
On the Encyclopedia of Law, we’re building a clearinghouse of free legal knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers.
This encyclopedia encapsulate a very diverse array of topics to offer a comprehensive and useful summary of the state of the legal discipline in the 21st century and in the history of law. This encyclopedia strategically reflects the enormous diversity of the discipline, the multiple meanings of legal terms and systems, and the diverse views of lawmakers and judges. It brings together the diversity of law knowledges, making it an invaluable resource for any academic or legal practice online resource.
The Encyclopedia gives a comprehensive historical overview of each legal issue fascinating history.
The Encyclopedia is designed as a key reference for law practitioners, students, researchers, law professors, and the informed public to provide basic, but comprehensible knowledge on this discipline.
It includes alphabetically arranged and professionally written, comprehensive and authoritative professional or academic articles by well-known international experts in individual fields. It constitutes a wide ranging and authorative collection of more than 200.000 entries. The encyclopedia contains a broad spectrum of topics.
For students, this tool can serve as a source of reference and help better understand law in an international perspective.
Knowledge creation and discovery is vital to the health and dynamism of the legal ecosystem. To that end, the Encyclopedia of Law invites you to share your research and creative endeavors with your colleagues.
We believe that contributing to this reference work is a great opportunity to gain professional visibility as a subject matter expert, expand your network and inspire other legal professionals and academics.
Submissions are encouraged from professionals at all levels – entry-level to senior women in industry, government and academia, and from students— undergraduate, graduate and post-doc fellows.
The Encyclopedia of Law offers a variety of options for participation. In addition, the Encyclopedia has created a set of tools to stimulate your thinking and to empower you to position your proposal within the legal reference.
Short Annotations submissions must describe original and unpublished work. Characteristics of short Annotations include:
•A small, focused contribution
•An annotation or comment relating to an entry in the Encyclopedia
In order to avoid unnecessary proliferation of entries or repetition of coverage, as far as possible new developments are included in existing entries of the Encyclopedia. The Lawi Team is open to suggestions from readers for legal topics or new entries that are not currently addressed by this legal refernce work.
Structure of Commentaries
Each entry can be commented on. Commentaries can be commissioned by the Editor or Associate Editors or submitted by authors. Sociopedia.isa does not have any deadlines, but agreements are made about the time frame. When submitted commentaries meet the journal’s guidelines, they are evaluated by the Editor or Associate Editors. When accepted, authors sign a contributor’s agreement with Sage, which subsequently edits and publishes the commentary (contributors will retain copyright in their commentary. The ISA will hold the copyright in the editorial arrangement of
Sociopedia.isa). Before the commentary is published, the author of the entry that is commented on is offered the possibility to write a reply. If he/she accepts this invitation, the commentary and the reply are published simultaneously in Sociopedia.isa.
After two years, authors of entries are asked to write an update of their work, taking into account any commentaries they may have had. When updated entries are published all previous commentaries are withdrawn from the website. Commentaries do remain mentioned on the list of published entries
A commentary should contain several elements. Please structure the commentary in accordance with the indicated order. Commentaries that do not meet the requirements will not be taken into consideration.
Some general remarks:
• Length: a commentary should be between 500 and 1000 words in total, excluding the bibliography (see below).
• References should be in Harvard style. Since the commentary is published online, no footnotes can be published.
• Language: The commentary is written in English. Non-native English speakers need to make sure that their commentary is written in correct English. It is recommended that non-native speakers have their commentaries checked by a native speaker.
• Optional: Sociopedia.isa offers native speakers the opportunity to submit a French and/or
Spanish translation of their commentary for publication alongside their original (English)
commentary. The author needs to make sure that such a translated commentary is an exact copy
of the final version of the original (English) commentary and that it is grammatically in order.
Copies in other languages need to be structured in the same way as original commentaries.
The commentary should be structured in three parts:
• Title: “Commentary on article “ADD NAME” by “ADD NAME AUTHOR”.
• 1. Introduction: a short description of what the argument is about of approximately 50 words.
• 2. Elaboration of the critique (between 400-900 words). The critique may address such topics as
o 2a. Theoretical foundation: critique of the way the field is delineated by the author, or of the way theories are interpreted; critique of the scope of the literature cited; or critique of the theories discussed.
o 2b. Empirical references: Empirical evidence may be incomplete, misinterpreted, or irrelevant.
• 3. Short concluding statement of approximately 50 words.
Finish up the article with the following two elements:
• Cite up to 5 references. Optionally, these references may be recommended for further reading.
• Add a short author biography of approximately 10 to 20 words including the name, location (e.g. affiliation with a university or other institution) and expertise of the author.
Additional note: Referring to commentaries:
Mention both the title and the link to the commentary.
Help improve Encyclopedia of Law content
If you are a professional scientist or experienced naturalist, you can sign up as an EOL curator for your group of organisms. Even if you are not a trained scientist, you can ask questions or provide opinions by adding comments about taxa, images, or individual text sections. You need to sign up as an EOL member to do this. Registration is quick and easy, and you’ll be able to log in immediately.
If you want to comment on a taxon name or concept, be sure to put your comment in the COMMENTS tab next to the IMAGES, MAPS, or VIDEO tab. If you want to comment on an image, look for the comments button (speech bubble) just below the image. If you want to comment on a text section, look for the comments button at the end of the section.
Curators, information providers, and EOL visitors will be able to see and respond to your comments, so this is a good way of pointing out problems or requesting additional information. Also adding tags to text and images will help you and other people to sort through the wealth of EOL information and find things more easily on the site.
Curate EOL pages
Anyone can contribute materials to EOL, but materials from unvetted contributors are initially marked as unreviewed and shown with a yellow background. EOL curators then identify the best quality contributions and promote them from unreviewed to trusted status. We invite professional scientists and experienced citizen scientists to register as a curator. When you register, we ask that you provide us with credentials, so we can evaluate your expertise. In order to qualify as a curator, you should satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
faculty, staff, or graduate student status in the life science department of a relevant university or college department (please provide information about your position and institutional affiliation, if a graduate student, please provide the web address of your lab home page or contact information for your supervisor)
authorship of peer-reviewed publications (please provide specific references)
member of a professional society in the life sciences (please provide name of society and duration of membership)
If you have already registered as an EOL user, you can update your profile to request curator privileges. Once you are confirmed as a curator, you will be able to review the EOL content for your group, approving suitable materials and rejecting incorrect, misleading, or other low quality information. Curators are given credit, as editors, on the taxon pages they curate. For for more information, contact us.
A draft of the Curator Network plan is now available (also available in Spanish and Catalan).
Share your online database
If you have data online that you would like to share with EOL, please see EOL Content Partners: Getting Started, then register as a content partner. EOL is interested in descriptive information about all taxa, as well as photos, illustrations, videos, sounds, maps, bibliographic references, classification hierarchies, and lists of scientific as well as vernacular names.
Curator roles and policies
Encyclopedia of Law curators are responsible for maintaining the quality of Encyclopedia
of Law’s vetted content. They are often professional scientists but can also be citizen
naturalists who have demonstrated a commitment to quality science. They need not
also be content contributors but that is encouraged; curators may affiliate with and/or
organize LawDesks (see 3.3).
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW Topics Page Curation
3.1 Curator status
• Curators must use their real names and offer credentials publicly on a profile page.
If these credentials cannot be verified, curatorial privileges will be rescinded.
Credentials may include one or more of the following:
a) An affiliation with a relevant department at a university or college
b) Membership in a professional society
c) Published peer‐reviewed work
d) Reference from a credentialed individual.
• There may be multiple curators for any given area of the site. These curators may
work together or independently, but to receive credit by being listed on a topics
page, the curator must have a valid profile.
• To oversee and manage multiple curators, master curators may be appointed by
the Topics Entries Group in consultation with professional societies.
• Curators will remain curators unless they remove themselves, or have their
privileges rescinded by staff or master curators due to violation of policy. Lack of
activity by a curator does not preclude future activity.
3.2 Curator activities
• Curators will examine content available for a topics, particularly unvetted
content. Unvetted content will typically come from the public or nonauthenticated
large resources, such as from Flickr, or be uploaded directly to our
own site via LawDesks . This content needs to be “approved” to appear on an
authenticated page. Some content from trusted sources (e.g. large scientific
databases) may be considered pre‐approved but is not free of error and so can be
rejected if necessary.
• Curators may not alter the content provided by others, but they may reject it, rate
it, comment on it, or use the content provider’s own mechanisms for correction. In
other words, they may work with a content provider to improve the content. They
may then change their decision from “reject” to “approve” or increase the data
• When ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW introduces commenting, curators are expected to leave comments
describing problems and to act as moderators for comments that others leave on
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW Topics Page Curation
topics entries; they may delete comments on entries that violate ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW policy (by
being abusive or inappropriate, etc). They should not, however, edit the comments
made by others.
• When ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW introduces tagging to the general public and/or generates automatic
tags, curators may select some tags or add tags themselves that will be considered
• In the future, curators will enhance the user experience in other ways. For
example, they may set preferred common names (so that the best one appears in
page headings) and set a page to be listed at the top of the results for a common
• Curators should make their decisions based on accuracy, appropriateness, or
effective writing. They may not make their decisions based on favouritism or
personal promises. Curators are expected to maintain professional decorum and
never engage in ad hominem attacks. Their work is subject to review by master
curators and ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW staff. Adherence to policies is necessary to remain a curator.
Further elaboration of what constitutes accuracy, appropriateness, and effective
writing is expected from the curator community.
• Curators are expected to review their entries on a regular basis. Additional curators
may be recruited by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW or by master curators if current curators have not been
active or have excessive loads. Curation is a volunteer activity to be taken
seriously, but level of effort can vary.
• Master curators shall be responsible for maintaining collegiality among multiple
curators. A master curator may follow policy to decide among curators. They may
set all disputed content to “unvetted” if necessary. They may temporarily freeze
content changes or rescind curatorial privileges if policies are not met. Master
curators are expected to follow ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW policy. Master curators may set additional
standards for other curators to follow in a particular clade or category of content.
• We expect to develop “bots” (programs) that will assist in the curatorial process,
e.g. identifying reversion wars, finding objectionable content, etc.
• LawDesks are customizable working environments for communities of people who
wish to contribute to the Encyclopedia of Law. They are web‐based and modular,
and employ the open‐source platform, Drupal, so that ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW and others can
contribute new features.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW Topics Page Curation
• A particular LawDesk may establish a web presence for a community independent
of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW while still providing data for it.
• Curators may choose to organize or affiliate with one or more LawDesks, and may
be reviewing information flowing from them.
• Multiple LawDesk versions are planned: