Scratchpads are an online virtual research environment for biodiversity, allowing anyone to share their data and create their own research networks. Sites are hosted at the Natural History Museum London, and offered freely to any scientist that completes an online registration form.

Sites can focus on specific taxonomic groups, or the biodiversity of a biogeographic region, or indeed any aspect of natural history. Scratchpads are also suitable for societies or for managing and presenting projects. Key features of Scratchpads (see also Scratchpads feature list) include: tools to manage biological classifications, bibliography management, media (images, video and audio), rich taxon pages (with structured descriptions, specimen records, and distribution data), and character matrices.

Scratchpads support various ways of communicating with site members and visitors such as blogs, forums, newsletters and a commenting system.