Frequently asked questions

This FAQ is a living document and will be updated occasionally as needs arise.


What is the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound?

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound is an open access website where scientists, policymakers and educators find and share information about the state of the Salish Sea ecosystem — its species, its features, its health and its people. We are guided by the Puget Sound Action Agenda and work closely with federal and state agencies such as the EPA and the Puget Sound Partnership. The website is a product of the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute. 

When did the website launch?

The website was launched on October 24, 2012.

What is your geographic scope?

Our geographic scope includes the entire Salish Sea ecosystem, including the lands and waters of Canada. Special focus is given to the Puget Sound region in order to leverage partnerships and existing information from local, state and federal agencies.

What do you mean by the Puget Sound region or watershed?

The Puget Sound region has been divided into many different geographic boundaries, but we typically refer to the areas — represented by the USGS as "hydrologic units" — that drain into and include the Puget Sound basin. This aligns with the definition established by the Washington Legislature (RCW 90.71.010) and is adopted by the Puget Sound Partnership. (View a map and description of these boundaries.)  In essence, our motto is "follow the water." Puget Sound does not exist in isolation, but is fed by its many water sources, from high elevation snowmelt to floodplains and wetlands. That's why you will see articles and accounts featuring terrestrial species and environments, as well as nearshore and marine systems. 

What do you mean by the Salish Sea?

The Salish Sea extends across the U.S.-Canada border, and includes the combined waters of the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound Basin and the San Juan Islands. Read more about the Salish Sea boundaries.

Who uses the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound?

Our audience is science-literate and represents many different backgrounds and interests. In particular, articles are geared toward scientists and policymakers looking for a summary of the best available science describing the Puget Sound ecosystem. 

Additional user community

In addition to its primary audience, the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound is a resource and teaching tool for college and university-level instructors and students. Our affiliation with the University of Washington and our strong connection with the College of the Environment make this a natural and vital component of our work. The website exists as both a source of information, and a place for undergraduate and graduate students to participate—whether through generation of content or other means—for class credit under the supervision of professors and teaching assistants.

A survey conducted in late 2012 of visitors to the website further showed a broad base of general interest users, including informal science educators, researchers, stakeholders and others. We recognize that we may need to engage different audiences differently. In the short term, we address the science-literate community as a core constituency, but plan to expand and adapt to reach a broader audience.

Are the articles on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound peer-reviewed?

Content within the Puget Sound Science Review went through a peer review process facilitated by the Puget Sound Partnership as part of the legislatively mandated Puget Sound Science Update. This peer-reviewed content features an identifiable green banner above each page title. Any future additions to the Puget Sound Science Review will undergo a similar peer review process to be determined by the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound editorial board. Other content on the site may or may not be peer-reviewed, but has been vetted for accuracy unless otherwise identified.

How do I cite information gathered from the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound?

We ask that you credit the author or authors of individual articles, as well as the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound at the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute.

What types of content will I find on the website?

There are three main categories of content found within the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound:

  1. The Puget Sound Science Review—a collection of critical reviews and syntheses of Puget Sound science;
  2. Topical articles that include a broad range of editorial content;
  3. Supplemental content ranging from geospatial data, species and habitat descriptions, archival documents, social media and portals to other scientific data.

What is The Puget Sound Science Review?

The Puget Sound Science Review includes critical reviews and syntheses of Puget Sound science prepared or reviewed by a governing editorial board and assigned topic editors. Review content is integrated within the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound and is identified through color coding and logos associated with participating organizations.

In its first phase, this content builds upon and adapts work completed as part of the Puget Sound Partnership’s April 2011 Puget Sound Science Update, a state-of-the-science document "synthesizing existing, peer-reviewed scientific information on specific topics identified by policy leaders [Puget Sound Science Update Synthesis 2010]." The completed chapters from that effort are represented online in modified and updated form as part of a collaborative agreement with the Puget Sound Partnership. The chapters include peer-reviewed analysis and state-of-the-science documentation from across a variety of disciplines.

What are topical articles?

The topical article concept and some of the descriptive language below is taken from or influenced by the Encyclopedia of Earth: www eoearth.org.

Topical articles can include a wide range of editorial content, from journal articles and policy reports to standard encyclopedic summaries. In many cases, these articles are gathered and vetted by Encyclopedia of Puget Sound editorial staff, but can also be submitted and/or reviewed by editorial board members and topic editors.

How are topical articles vetted for accuracy?

Topical articles can be created specifically for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, or can come from previously written material. If content for a topical article comes from a government agency or other recognized scientific organization, or a previously peer-reviewed source such as a reprint from a recognized journal, the article is considered sufficiently vetted. Previously unpublished articles must be reviewed by at least one expert from our network of topic editors, as well as the editorial staff, before being added to the Encyclopedia.

What other content will I find in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound?

We also provide geospatial data, species accounts and habitat descriptions, archival documents, blogs and select monitoring data. Editorial board members and topic editors are encouraged to take advantage of these sections as repositories for supplemental resources, but they fall outside the main scope of editorial synthesis. Much of this content will be provided or generated by editorial staff or partners.

How did you determine your editorial structure?

Our editorial structure is modeled after the topic editor structure used at the Encyclopedia of Earth, “a comprehensive resource built and maintained by a diverse community of scholars.” Additional inspiration comes from the Encyclopedia of Life, and the many other open access encyclopedias and journals across the Web (PLOS, Scholarpedia, etc.).

What do you mean by "Topics"?

Website content is built around seven broad topics related to Puget Sound science. The topics cross academic disciplines, creating a place where scientific information connects and interacts organically. Editorial board members and topic editors oversee specific topics, including: Biology: information on the status and health of the plant and animal species of the Puget Sound region. Chemistry: marine, freshwater, sediment, pollution, stormwater. Physical environment: geology, bathymetry, cartography, meteorology, physical oceanography and hydrology. Climate change: effects on the watershed and marine environment. Ecosystem-based management: historical and current policy related to protection of the Puget Sound ecosystem; ecosystem indicators. Social and economic sciences: quality of life index, fisheries, culture, history. Threats: climate change and population growth, shoreline armoring, eutrophication, water pollution. (Threats are addressed by all topic editors.)

Who can edit and contribute content?

In all, five collaborative roles are specified: editorial board member, topic editor, author/contributor, editorial staff and registered commentator. Editorial board members prepare or assign critical reviews within their scientific discipline and draw upon a network of colleagues to recruit synthesis content. They can contribute to any section of the website, including the Puget Sound Science Review. Board members also provide advice that guides the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound as it develops.

Topic editors are recruited by the editorial board and review specific content related to their technical expertise. Editorial board members also serve as topic editors for their areas of expertise. Topic editors can contribute to any section of the website, including the Puget Sound Science Review.

Author/contributors are loosely described as any content providers. They can include individuals as well as organizations. Author/contributor content for the Puget Sound Science Review must be reviewed by an editorial board member or topic editor. Contributions designed as feature articles can also be vetted by the editorial board, or editorial staff at the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.  

Editorial staff includes a managing editor, editorial assistants and IT support, and facilitates addition of content to the website.

Registered user (un-credentialed commentator): a member of the general public who has registered with the site, is allowed to make comments on a public discussion board; comments are un-vetted but are monitored by our editorial staff.

Who steers your editorial priorities?

The editorial focus of the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound is established by the Puget Sound Institute, with input from the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound's editorial board and the Puget Sound Science Panel. The Puget Sound Partnership Strategic Science Plan, the Biennial Science Work Plan and the Puget Sound Action Agenda also serve as guides.

All content on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound is freely available to the public. Authors own the rights to their own work while allowing the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound unrestricted noncommercial use online. We further encourage content producers to release their work with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. However, contributors can choose their own level of copyright control. In cases where work is commissioned directly by the Puget Sound Institute, we will have the right to reproduce the work in a variety of noncommercial contexts and media formats with credit to the author, according to the rules governing publications at the University of Washington.