The Digital and the Encyclopedic: New Tools for Open-Access History of Science


Christopher J. Phillips

Carnegie Mellon University


Christopher J. Phillips

Carnegie Mellon University


Session Abstract

While Wikipedia and similar sites have increased the availability of information, accessibility is not enough in a world in which trust is lacking. As philosopher Onora O'Neill has reminded us, scholars should respond to this apparent communication crisis not by simply proclaiming their expertise but rather by demonstrating trustworthiness. This means making information accessible and assess-able, intelligible and usable. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has been remarkably successful in showing how a rigorous, peer-reviewed online resource might not only increase access to high quality articles (with hundreds of thousands of views each week from around the world) but also redefine the discipline's public presence, making visible scholars' work and insights to a much wider audience.
The Encyclopedia of the History of Science ( was designed and created to provide a similar resource for historians of science, publishing open-access, up-to-date (and continually updatable), peer-reviewed articles orienting readers to topics in the field. This new resource aims to complement and draw attention to other online or digital projects in the history of science, providing scholarly introductions to topics and acting as a portal to other scholarship and resources.
This roundtable will feature a range of scholars briefly discussing a broader history of encyclopedias in the history of science, as well as the very idea of ""encyclopedic knowledge"" within the field. We aim to facilitate a broad discussion about the past and future of these resources, and how historians of science might seek to shape such resources (and eventually, expand their scope) to make scholars' work more visible and accessible, to provide a resource for colleagues, and to expand and challenge traditional notions of what constitutes the discipline for the wider public.

Presenter 1

Jenna Tonn

Boston College

Presenter 2

Michael D. Gordin

Princeton University

Presenter 3

Matthew H. Hersch

Harvard University

Presenter 4

Elly Truitt

Bryn Mawr

Presenter 5

Gisela Mateos

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Presenter 6

Whitney Laemmli

Carnegie Mellon University