A four-volume encyclopedia on peace studies, which has taken five-and-a-half years to put together and includes an introduction by the Dalai Lama, has been unveiled in Bradford.

Professor Nigel Young, of Hetton, in the Yorkshire Dales, has edited the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace, which is expected to be the definitive guide for academics and policy-makers in the field of peace studies.

The peace studies department at the University of Bradford yesterday hosted the first of two UK launches for the prestigious work, published by Oxford University Press.

A second launch will take place in Oxford.

Prof Young, who was deputy head of the UK’s first peace studies department in Bradford in the early 1970s, has dedicated the last half-decade to producing the work, which contains 858 entries by 420 authors.

He said: “To be associated with a major reference work always helps any department or institution – no department can ever rest on its laurels and having a significant academic published like OUP publish this with links to the university is all to the good.

“It helps bring legitimacy and credibility to the field.

“It will be a kind of benchmark, in any field, when you have got a new reference coming out.

“It’s like a benchmark because it shows where the field is in 2010.”

Prof Young, is also a research professor in peace studies at Colgate University in New York, where he was a lecturer for more than 20 years.

He said producing the encyclopedia included determining the list of topics and finding scholars to write on each topic.

The mammoth task also included reading each draft and decided what could be used, or what needed to be re-written or even discarded.

He said: “A number of people have written to me and congratulated me, saying they think it will be the standard reference work world-wide.

“So in that sense it really is important for everybody, from somebody in a sixth form right through to senior scholars who want to check their facts.”

Professor Paul Rogers, of the Peace Studies Department at the University of Bradford, who made a contribution to the work, said: “A number of the people who have contributed to the encyclopedia are staff or former staff and students from the department.

“We are delighted to see it published, it is a major effort and it brings together a huge amount of information about peace studies from all over the world.

“It will be the standard reference work for peace studies probably for the next decade.”