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Scope & Content

Content types and sources for the Encyclopedia of Earth

The Encyclopedia has several different types of content, the majority of which may be reused under a Creative Commons license.  The types of content available on the EoE include:

  • Articles -- written and edited collaboratively by EoE volunteer contributors on a variety of topics related to the Earth, its ecosystems and their relationship with society.  Separate cateogories of articles include places, which are articles about specific geographic sites around the world, and biographies, which are short articles about individuals who have made significant contributions to our knowledge about the Earth’s environments and how they function.    
  • Definitions – brief definitions of some of the most common and important concepts related to the Earth’s environments.
  • Speeches --  major speeches delivered by well-known individuals on topics related to the  physical, social and economic aspects of the environment. 
  • Reports --  significant reports by international bodies, such as the United Nations, or other government or non-governmental agencies that increase understanding and inform discussions of major environmental concerns.
  • Ebooks -  books of interest that are either already in the public domain or for whom the EoE has received permission from the publisher to post here. Copyright rules may apply.
  • Images, videos and sound files – images, videos and sound files (podcasts and others) may be stand alone files or connected to an article, and like articles, must be approved by a Topic Editor before being posted.

The EoE has three primary sources of content:

  • Original  contributions made by EoE authors. These are individuals who are scholars, educators, professionals, or practitioners from the natural, physical, and social sciences, the arts and humanities, the professional disciplines, the public or private sectors, or the nongovernmental organizations whose work or avocation focuses on some aspect of the environment.  All authors have been vetted by the EoE Editorial Board and approved as qualified contributors.
  • Content Partners. These are organizations who have reached a formal agreement with the EoE to have their existing material published in the Encyclopedia. In most cases, such material is published verbatim from the Partner organization, with some editing for style and length to make the entry consistent with EoE guidelines. Remaining consistent with the EoE governance guidelines, once the entry is up on the EoE, authors may then add to or edit that material. Every entry from a Content Partner is assigned to, and must be approved by, at least one Topic Editor. You can view our current list of Content Partners here
  • Free and Open Content Sources. The typical example here is a government agency whose work rests fully in the public domain, such as many federal government publications and images. Other examples include non-profit and educational organizations whose copyright allows free use for educational and non-commercial purposes. In most cases, such material is  posted on the EoE exactly as it  was developed by   the organization, with some editing for style and length to make the entry consistent with EoE guidelines. Remaining consistent with the EoE governance guidelines, once the entry is up on the EoE, authors may then add to or edit that material. Every entry from a Content Source is assigned to, and must be approved by, at least one Topic Editor.

The Scope of the Encyclopedia of Earth

The scope of the Encyclopedia of Earth is the environment of the Earth broadly defined, with particular emphasis on the interaction between society and the natural spheres of the Earth. The scope of the Encyclopedia thus includes:

  • The hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, magnetosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere, and their interactions, especially in regards to how these systems support life and underpin human existence.
  • The living organisms on Earth that constitute its biological diversity.
  • The interactions and feedbacks among society, biological diversity and the physical systems of the Earth. This includes the social, economic, political, behavioral, technical, cultural, legal, and ethical driving forces behind environmental change.
  • Those parts of traditional disciplines that investigate the environment or its interaction with society. This includes the natural, physical, and social sciences, the arts and humanities, and the professional disciplines (education, journalism, business, law, public health, engineering, medicine, public policy).
    • The interdisciplinary fields of environmental science—natural and social—that integrate concepts, methods, and analytical tools from multiple fields in the investigation the environment or its interaction with society. Examples include:
    • Environmental physical sciences such as atmospheric sciences, Earth systems science, remote sensing, biogeochemistry, oceanography, and other non-biological terrestrial sciences. 
    • Environmental life sciences such as environmental biology, ecology, forestry, fisheries, marine biology, agriculture, aquaculture, and related fields.
    • Environmental engineering and other sciences related to the impacts of natural and anthropogenic activities on the environment, including assessment, prevention, control, regulation, remediation, and restoration.
    • Environmental social sciences such as ecological and environmental economics, environmental sociology, archaeology and history, and other fields that study human social and cultural activities which connect to environmental conditions.
    • Environmental information sciences that deal with the collection, storage, standardization, integration, analysis, and management of data related to the analysis of the environment or environmental change.