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ToL Scientific Core Content Administration

TreeGrow iconToL Scientific Core Contributors provide the content that is at the heart of the ToL collection. They build the tree structure, and they compose branch and leaf pages providing synopses about the characteristics and phylogenetic relationships of individual groups of organisms. In addition, they may choose to contribute other kinds of content, like other articles, notes, treehouses, images, and other media.

If you are interested in becoming a ToL branch or leaf author, please contact the coordinator(s) for your group and discuss your potential contribution with them. To find the coordinator for your group, you can check the Branch Coordinators list, or you can send an inquiry to Please make sure to provide information on what group of organisms you are interested in contributing to the ToL, describe the nature of your work on the group, and send along a list of your relevant publications. If you have confirmed your contribution with a coordinator, please be sure to register! Once you are signed up as a ToL Scientific Core Contributor, be sure to have a look at these pages:

Hierarchical Coordination of Scientific Core Content

ToL branch and leaf page authors are generally phylogenetic biologists and/or systematists with an established record of research about the organisms they write about. In order to ensure that contributors are among the principal experts for a given group, development of ToL scientific core content follows a community-based, hierarchical coordination model.

Each ToL scientific contributor serves the project in two complementary roles:

During the initial years of the Tree of Life, a core group of biologists was invited by ToL editors to author pages for the major groups of organisms and to coordinate the development efforts for each of these branches. The major criteria for the selection of these principal coordinators were a person's expertise as demonstrated by their publication record, research program, and reputation within the scientific community and his or her ability to fairly consider the work of other researchers in the field.

These core coordinators then selected authors/coordinators for the major branches descending from their pages. For example, the fungi authors/coordinators selected the authors/coordinators for the sac fungi and club fungi. In turn, the club fungi authors/coordinators selected the authors/coordinators for the smut fungi and jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms, etc. Thus, the Tree of Life project functions more like a multi-chapter book, with authors chosen by the editors and associate editors, and less like a scientific journal, with submitted papers.

diagram of hierarchical ToL coordination

Hierarchical coordination of ToL scientific content: the coordinators for a given group select the authors for the pages of subgroups, who then in turn coordinate the development of their groups' subgroups

There are only a very few pages on the Tree of Life in which the authors of a page are not the coordinators of the pages descended from that page. This can happen, for example, if someone agrees to author a page but not to coordinate the descendent pages. If it happens that the author of a page is also the coordinator of the page, then the next-most-inclusive coordinator serves as associate editor of that page. In the above example, Jane Doe is the author of one of the generic pages, but is not also editor of that page; instead, Barbara Smith serves to edit that page. This may sound rather complex, but in practice it is almost always simple: the authors of a page in general coordinate the descendent pages, choosing those people who will author the pages that are immediate descendents of their page.

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