11. Partnerships to collaborate more effectively

Moderators: Mike Webster, Deb Paul, and Joe Miller


A number of recent initiatives, often working at a country or continental level, are making huge strides in regional digitisation, aggregation and visualisation of collections data. Often the intellectual case, methodologies, organisational processes and impact of these programmes are very similar, differing only where regional needs demand a difference in priorities. This suggests that the geo-/bio-diversity informatics community is driving toward a common vision for community activities, and provides the means for less-resourced regions to highlight needs for local investment. But without international coordination, we risk duplicating effort, and subsequently struggle to build upon each other’s work.

Orchestrating cross-project and cross-border teamwork is difficult to coordinate with current funding models, making it difficult for us to agree on what to accomplish, by whom and how to sustain this work. This also requires an inclusive model of participation supporting small group innovation alongside the larger and more enduring organisations. We explore this challenge from the perspective of several major initiatives and the needs of participating communities. We aim to identify concrete steps toward building a loose coalition of organisations and initiatives that work together to identify an agreed work plan for the bio/geo-informatics community, and encourage participation in the coalition by individuals or groups from diverse sectors with innovative ideas. We ask contributors to outline priorities for practical areas of shared interest on topics such as:

  • Shared data visualization and metrics of use / impact
  • Producers and consumer needs for geo-/bio-diversity data
  • Techniques for cross-institutional software development
  • Shared authority file resources to improve data quality and speed of data mobilization
  • Models for retaining opportunity for outside innovation, and new participation.

By highlighting best practice across domains, identifying community priorities and possible methods of working, we hope to advance the cooperation and coordination of the geo-/bio-diversity data communities.

Above text from Symposium at Biodiversity Next 2019 Conference:

Smith V, Paul D, Seltmann K. Increasing Opportunities to Align Data Initiatives for Bio/Geo Collections. Biodiversity Next 2019. SP39 - Increasing Opportunities to Align Data Initiatives for Bio/Geo Collections [accessed 17 May 2021]

Questions to promote discussion

On our shared experiences

  1. How does your institutional affiliation affect your ability to collaborate? Is collaboration supported outside your niche space?
  2. How do you learn about potential augmented data for things in your collection?
  3. What is your network and model and do they cross discipline, geographic, and language boundaries? If so, what makes it work?

Alignment and partnership strategies

  1. Please share your experiences (positive or negative) in structured events when joining new communities?
  2. Do formal meetings/consultations help or do we need additional mechanisms? Please elaborate.
  3. Also, how do we ensure all can contribute? (individuals to large organizations)? Think of Bionomia and GloBI

On building shared funding resources to reduce unnecessary duplication

  1. How can we benefit from better funded initiatives elsewhere?
  2. How can sustained funding be acquired more effectively? What needs to be done in terms of lobbying funding agencies, influencing work programmes and encouraging international funding agendas.
  3. Can we better partition / converge community tasks?

On lessons from other fields

  1. What can we learn from communities like astronomy, particle physics, climate science, genomics that have enjoyed substantial success in acquiring substantial funding over many years?
  2. What are the strategic technology developments to invest in and who with?

Information resources


Welcome to Topic 11: Partnerships to collaborate more effectively. To start out we would like to understand your experiences and how that shapes your ability to collaborate. As a manager I am required to collaborate across all parts of my work but that wasn’t always the case. Earlier in my career I felt more compelled to stick to the job. I was lucky that I always had support of someone that helped me switch jobs to more collaborative and satisfying work. I found those mentors in the quieter parts of my institutions, others find their place in professional societies, and perhaps social media plays a larger role for early career professionals today. My experience is atypical in that I have changed jobs and institutions every 4-7 years and had a support system to make it work.

There is no need to bare your soul here but what works for you? How do you learn about things that you want to do in 5 years? There are people out that there that have great ideas but don’t know about the roadmap for digital extended specimens. How do we reach them and offer them a place?

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Hi Joe. I have some questions and ideas, but at this time I prefer to discuss it first by email, or even a ZOOM call. If possible, I would like to have Deb Paul also in this discussion, based on what I saw at the Digital Extended Specimens (Phase 2) presentation, last Tuesday.

Please, drop me a note at edalcin “at” jbrj “dot” org

Thanks in advance.


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Hi Eduardo!

Welcome to the discourse forum. Glad to see you here. Happy to meet with you. Let’s see when we can find a time that suits all of us to have this discussion. Looking forward to your ideas regarding digital extended specimens.