While looking for some biochemistry references, I stumbled across a PDF from a chapter in the Encyclopedia for Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Wikipedia claims that this literature is "crowdsourced", yet "relies on strict standards of peer review and can be referred to for academic purposes as well." However, the only citations on the Wikipedia page are to the EOLSS site itself.

The PDFs appear to be pretty high quality in terms the way the information is presented--I would say that look to be on par with textbook chapters. Yet the EOLSS website itself is sketchy as hell, and looks like it was pulled straight out of 1995 (complete with flash banners and a spectrum of colors/fonts for the bodies of text).

Does anybody have any experience with EOLSS? Or any reliable sources that give it legitimacy for academic citations?

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    I can't answer specifically since I'm not in this field, but generally in academic research, one tries to avoid citing secondary sources such as encyclopedias. What you really want are the primary sources, the original researchers reporting on the work they did. The encyclopedia entry isn't that, but hopefully will contain references to primary sources - cite them. – Nate Eldredge Mar 31 '15 at 15:02

It appears to be a completely earnest and legitimate effort, and I at least recognize a few names that appear to be involved. It also appears to be pretty old in Internet Time, dating from around 2002. This makes me think that it's basically an idealistic but largely abandoned project, which would certainly account for its design. It's also huge and almost certainly poorly curated, which means that there's no reason to think its quality will be uniform.

As such, I would recommend against using leaning on it strongly for any assertion, just because it's hard to tell what you've really got ahold of when you're reading it. If you find something in it useful, look for the other review papers that the authors will likely have written or have cited, and work from there instead; cite it if you found it useful, but make sure that anything important has another source as well.

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