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  • Collaboratively build a biographical dictionary or encyclopaedia

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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This recipe lets scholars work together in a collaborative, distributed environment, to build a biographical dictionary or encyclopaedia with links to resources by or about the person described. The recipe focuses on how entries for the people themselves, and for the linked resources, are created, updated and published. The collection of published entries is called 'the registry' for ease of reference.

Preparing an authoritative entry can take a long time and may involve extensive research. The recipe assumes that some scholars use the registry software to structure and store the information they are in the process of gathering, rather than collecting it off-line first.

The registry consists of:

  • One entry per person
  • Metadata about the person in a defined format (such as EAC)
  • Links to media and resources both in the repository and outside



  • Tools to support the creation and update of entries for people and resources and
    their association with related entities, with capabilities to search the register and
    other relevant collections as part of the process of creating or updating an entry.
  • Capabilities to support the ongoing development of an entry as part of the
    research process and to share drafts with, and comment on, the drafts of other
    Collection maintenance tools for the evolving registry with shared services to
    support adding, searching, reading, replacing and removing entries, the harvesting
    of entries for inclusion in the registry and syndication of registry entries.


  • The published registry (people and resources)
  • The set of registry entries in process
  • Other biographical dictionaries/ encyclopedias that might contain information
    about a person eligible for inclusion in the published registries
  • Other collections of resource descriptions that might describe resources by or
    about a subject.
  • Contributor profiles and fields of interest
  • Annotations associated with in-process and published registry entries.

Preparation Recipes

A list of Recipes that users might want to check before starting this one. For example users might need to digitize a text before creating a scholarly edition.


The researcher has information on a person or resource they want to add to the registry.

  1. The researcher searches for an existing entry on the person or resource in the
    If no entry is found:
    1. The researcher searches other registries that might turn up an entry, and
      assist with creating a shell of an entry.
    2. The researcher creates a new entry, populating a pre-prepared metadata
      template of mandatory and optional fields.
    3. As part of this process the researcher may associate the new entry with
      other entries found in the registry or create other new entries "on the fly".
    4. The researcher saves the entry, adding it to the set of registry entries in-
      process, so that it can be worked on further at a later date and discovered
      by other contributors.
      If something is found:
    • The researcher can add information into the existing entry if they are
      authorised to do so. Otherwise they can annotate the existing entry through
      the related annotation recipe to share knowledge with or provide feedback
      to, its author.
  2. The researcher submits the information as being "ready". It is not yet publicly
    visible. The system may send notifications to potential reviewers.
  3. Some other researcher, or group of researchers, approves or rejects the entry. If
    approved, it becomes publicly visible.


Trust models

Several radically different models for collaboration can arise out of this workflow
through small policy changes. For example:

  1. If anyone can create an entry, and everyone can approve their own entry, the
    model resembles Wikipedia.
  2. If a large number of users can create or modify entries, but only a small number
    can approve them, the model resembles a traditional encyclopaedia.
  3. If all users can create or modify entries, but no one can approve their own entry
    (and perhaps an entry requires two or more approvals), it becomes a peer review
  4. If no one can modify an entry created by another researcher, it becomes more
    academic, where each entry is both an informative entry, and a scholarly work in
    its own right.

Further variations:

  1. The system may require review at the initial "create an entry" stage.
  2. The system may allow multiple entries corresponding to a single subject.
  3. Peer review may be enhanced by storing information about reviewers' expertise,
    and matching entries to reviewers.

Extension of scope to other topics

Although this recipe talks of people, all kinds of "parties" may be included in a
biographical dictionary or encyclopedia: groups, families, organisations, etc. In addition,
a register may also include entries for events (e.g., performances, exhibitions) and places.
In fact, this recipe could be extended to other kinds of dictionaries or encyclopedias,
including general encyclopedias that cover a range of topics. The sharing principle is the
idea of a contextual approach to information, with topics acting as an entry point to a set
of authoritative resources.

Support for the research process

The creation, update and searching tool need not be tightly bound to the registry
maintenance tools. Researchers may prefer to develop the entry locally at first and expose
drafts by adding new versions to the registry at certain stages in their development.

Persistent identifiers and disambiguation

Each entity and each resource in the biographical dictionary needs a persistent identifier
that is not just its preferred name. This identifier may be used in federated registries to
share disambiguation research, link entries for the same person from a range of sources,
and to enable associations to be made between entries in different registries.

What Next? Related Recipes

Recipes are often connected. Suggest other Recipes needed or relevant.

Supporting Information

This section is administrative and not necessarily for academics. It is where the concrete connections are made to Scholarly Narratives and Activites.

Related Scholarly Narratives

List of the Scholarly Narratives from which this was drawn.

Supporting Activities

List of the Shared Services Activies which are called for in this Recipe.