Search for a Trustworthy General-Reference Encyclopedia

Peter Pullman's picture

Would researchers care to opine on their preferred online resource? There are so many general-reference sites to choose from. But each of you must have chosen a site whose editors 1) do their best to assign contributors with expertise and 2) assign other appropriate experts, who remove errors of fact and obvious biases before content goes 'live'.

Wikipedia, I've come to accept, fails on both counts.

-- Peter Pullman, #Wail: The Life of Bud Powell#


Categories: Query
Keywords: research query

I've been part of the editorial team for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History for a few years, and we are very attentive to finding great contributors and then finding great editors for individual articles. I have recommended many edits and revisions, and even rejections, with a goal of maintaining a high standard of reliability and accessibility. I am not as familiar with all the many topics within the ORE, but I believe they follow a similar process.
The obstacle, of course, is that you need access to a library with a subscription in order to actually read the informative contributions. But since the editors and contributors are paid for the work they do, it does require some form of income. This factor probably means it is not "general reference." But when you rely on volunteer labor, it is difficult to manage the quality.

If there's more information about Oxford Research Encyclopedias - or about another online tool that historians and other scholars rely on - I, for one, would appreciate another post on this topic.

There must be a way for independent scholars to access reliably vetted information. It can't be that, in a world so besotted with data and information, those who work from home are stuck with Wikipedia.

I have had no luck in reaching someone at ORE, to learn how I can pay for and use it.