Atmospedia:About

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Atmospedia is a Wikipedia-style website that is the premier center for resources aimed toward researchers (from early to late-career) in the atmospheric sciences.

Websites already exist that provide resources as a collection of links to professional development, funding, writing/communication, DEI efforts, career searching, and a multitude of other resources. Unfortunately, a list of links inherently requires that each individual researcher spend their own time and energy searching through each link and synthesizing each resource for their particular use case. While this may sometimes be necessary, it also is completely inefficient in many cases where time is limited. The goal of our proposed website is to improve and streamline the flow of information by decentralizing its curation and generation process, enabling end users to use, update, and populate resources as they become available.

Community participation will enable PIs, staff, program managers, and students to add and update information over time, thus making the wiki a rich compilation of wisdom. Some individuals and organizations in our research community already regularly do this on social media (Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) when they post about available jobs and other opportunities, so this website in many ways helps to redirect that information into something more permanent, sustainable, and accessible without forcing folks to use social media for their professional advancement. Additionally, the wiki would allow for proper credit to be given to authors who substantially contribute to it and thus make their contributions citable on CVs.

Project Background and Motivation

Access to good and timely information is crucial for the advancement of a researcher at any stage of their career. Consider the following case studies:

  • An undergraduate student is researching potential future research advisors and their current projects, but does not know what programs or departments facilitate work relevant to the student’s interests
  • A graduate student is seeking out possible career paths after they obtain their PhD in the atmospheric sciences but may find that their doctoral advisor or department provides little guidance or help
  • A postdoctoral researcher is asked to write a proposal but is given no advice or assistance on how to write such a document or find funding
  • A professor is asked to communicate their work to the broader community but is struggling to find resources available that helps to polish their presentation
  • A PhD scientist working at an atmospheric science company is seeking information on how to develop their project management/leadership skills but finds that most information online isn’t geared specifically toward scientists

Granted, the situations described in the above case studies could be found at any level of career development. Some atmospheric scientists are fortunate in that their research group/supervisor, mentor, university, or organization have structures in place to help give them timely information so that they may flourish in their role. Unfortunately, this support isn’t always present and our fellow colleagues are then left trying to succeed and compete against those given high-quality resources. With many funding and professional opportunities being competitive, this puts them at a grave disadvantage and may compel some of them to feel unsupported, unwelcome, or even leave research altogether. Further, these disadvantages can compound across academic stages, exacerbating fundamental inequities due to lack of access to potentially career-defining resources.

Proposed Solution

The rationale for creating a Wikipedia-style website is three-fold. First, it’s a recognizable system for many given that the website is built on the same underlying technology (MediaWiki) upon which Wikipedia.org is built upon. Second, it allows for the community itself to curate and collaborate on resources that it wants, which is essential for any sort of long-term, sustainable effort. Finally, it allows for oversight in that all edits are tracked and versioned such that unwanted changes can be removed from the system by editors/moderators. Versioning also allows us to keep track of contributors and those actively adding to the wiki.

Examples of such wiki styles websites other than Wikipedia include the History of Hydrology, Proteopedia, and WikiVet.

A wiki-style website is additionally better than using social media (e.g. Twitter/X, Instagram, Threads, etc.) for our purposes since such accounts still require users to “follow” the specific individuals for information. Additionally, information is very transient and happenstance depending on when a person logs onto social media and thus content is not easily archiveable or accessible when needed.

Current Status: Closed Alpha

As of May 2024, Atmospedia is in a closed alpha phase, accessible via Google Form for interested users, solicited at conferences/professional meetings (e.g. AAAR, AGU, etc.) or through a small number of atmospheric science-based college courses. There are several short-term benefits that this model imparts:

  • By starting with a more selective group of contributors during the closed alpha phase, we ensure a certain baseline level of information quality and expertise. This smaller, more manageable group allows for close monitoring and guidance, helping administrators more easily check for accuracy and reliability in the information presented on Atmospedia.
  • Early users will be able to identify immediate use cases, functional needs (e.g. wiki extensions), and categories of content that our administrators may not - Based on feedback received during the closed alpha phase, we can gather insights, address issues, and implement improvements based on user suggestions. This iterative process will help us refine the user experience and content quality.

If you are interested in participating in the Atmospedia Closed Alpha, please fill out this short form, available here. Your participation will be invaluable, and we look forward to working closely with you to shape this wiki into a valuable resource for the atmospheric science community and beyond.

Once the closed alpha phase is successfully completed, we will transition to an open beta phase, where the wiki will be advertised to a wider audience, and we will continue to refine and expand our content.