An integrated summary from all days has been uploaded here.
This is a progress summary on the virtual consultation, Advancing the Catalogue of the World's Natural History Collections.
This summary covers activity from 12:00 UTC on 28 April 2020 to 11:00 UTC on 30 April 2020. The following questions and points were raised. Summaries in other languages are posted to the Spanish and Chinese consultation pages. Visit the consultation site to add your thoughts to these and other topics.
We have reached the scheduled end date for the consultation. The coordination team will now begin preparation of a draft white paper based on the discussions. This draft will be posted on this site and circulated to all registered participants for comment and further input - please register here. All discussion topics will remain open for further contributions and these will be considered for inclusion.
- 1.1. Directory to support the collections community (USE)
1.2. Locating specimens and genetic materials (USE)
- Response: Information collected on >300 North American arthropod collections. Work continues on around 750 worldwide. Most information was collected from institutional websites. A standard information form would be a great help.
- Response: It will be valuable to know the taxonomic scope of each collection. In the Colombian registry (RNC), only higher taxa are listed. Estimates of holdings may help with collection management.
1.3. First step towards databasing collections (USE)
- Response: Issues with current content in GBIF and GRSciColl, including confusion between institutions and collections.
- Response: Success is most likely if the catalogue is well supported by the community and there are good tools and tutorials.
- Response: The catalogue may indirectly lead to digitisation by raising external pressure for data to be available.
1.4. Assessing the scale and value of collections (USE)
- Question: Metrics may be useful to government agencies. It is possible that metrics may not need to be fully standardised. The term “value” may be problematic if administrators see some collections as less valuable.
1.5. Increased value for data on specimens, taxonomic publications, etc. (USE)
- Response: It will be useful if the catalogue contains information on preservation methods. Collections may not be defined in ways that are scientifically meaningful for other purposes.
1.6. Reducing duplication of effort (USE)
- Response: GGBN would save resources by not having to maintain a separate catalogue. The catalogue would save time for collections staff. It may be difficult to resolve records for the same collection from different sources.
1.7. Foundation for new and enriched services (USE)
- Response: Natural history collections also have a role as part of cultural heritage. Links to genomic information from INSDC would be useful. Environmental and regulatory agencies need information on collections. The catalogue should link to the institution’s own web resources. Attempting too many functions may impact core services.
1.8. Improvements to citation and visibility for collections (USE)
- Response: Organising all identifiers used (even incorrect ones) is a useful step. Greater visibility will help biobanks. Examples of issues with citation of tissue samples. Making the catalogue a standard tool (like GenBank) will enhance visibility.
1.9. Support for national and regional needs and applications (USE)
- Response: The RNC registry in Colombia plays an important role in permitting processes for collecting specimens.
2.1. Scope for the catalogue and definition of “collection” (INFORMATION)
- Response: Organisation and support of collections varies greatly between institutions. Discussion of “research collections”/“private collections”. Researchers need to know 1) what materials exist, 2) where materials are held, and 3) how it is possible to access materials. Biobanks should be included.
- Response: Discussion of detailed example from INBio of how collections may be redefined over time.
- Response: A good starting-point is to get a list of collections from each institution.
2.3. Hierarchical collection structures and subcollections (INFORMATION)
- Response: Hierarchies may not fit institutions that have multiple overlapping collections e.g. in different colleges. Hierarchical information may help with collection management. Different institutions may categorise collections differently.
2.3. Hierarchical collection structures and subcollections (INFORMATION)
- Response: Discussion of relationships between institutions, a hierarchy of collections and datasets.
2.4. Description of a collection (INFORMATION)
- Response: Consensus metadata standards may not be well structured for efficient use.
2.5. Wider data linkages (INFORMATION)
- Response: Collections could make more use of field images. Types, taxa included, collectors, publications and staff should all be linked. Field notes should be mentioned.
2.6. Information services relating to collections (INFORMATION)
- Response: All the suggested services would be valuable and help collections to work together better.
3.1. Pathways and tools for publishing collection records (TECHNOLOGY)
- Response: Examples from Colombia and Argentina. The Argentinian SNDB registry holds less information than many of the collection systems.
3.2. Community catalogues (TECHNOLOGY)
- Response: GGBN is keen to participate and will retain its own identity.
3.3. Integrated catalogue (TECHNOLOGY)
- Response: Colombian law gives responsibility to the RNC catalogue to the Alexander von Humboldt Institute.
3.4. Collection management systems (TECHNOLOGY)
- Response: Symbiota supports data import via Excel, CSV or from IPT servers. In Costa Rica, collection systems have been expected to provide annual estimates of holdings.
3.5. Interfaces, APIs and client modules (TECHNOLOGY)
- Response: Content of collection records should be interpreted and validated as far as possible so it can be used as data.
4.1. Ownership of information for each collection (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: Collection administrators are still not as engaged as is necessary. In Argentina, access to collection information has sometimes been restricted. Indigenous labels and worldviews should be included where relevant.
4.2. Communities of practice (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: Communities of collections work well when organised along taxonomic lines. Example of UK experiences through NatSCA. In considering communities of practice, it is important to focus on the people involved.
4.3. Technical infrastructures (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: The informatics components should focus on supporting the information needs of collections.
4.4. Governance arrangements (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: Discussion of relationship between GBIF/GRSciColl and community catalogues (collaboration or competition, unified or integrated). Alongside the FAIR principles, the Indigenous Data Sovereignty working group has articulate the CARE principles to support ethical use of materials from indigenous groups.
4.5. Incentives for contributors (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: Sometimes there may be benefits in publishing information on behalf of collections, but they must have confidence that they are in control. Incentives may include advertising and recognition for the collection, tools that simplify work inside the collection, more credibility when seeking funding. Collections would benefit if funding is available for visits by taxonomists and for software licences.
4.6. Funding and sustainability (GOVERNANCE)
- Response: Need to be able to identify meaningful metrics to justify long-term support. Government agencies, major world collections and GBIF may play important roles in securing funding.
Comments on this virtual consultation process
- Response: It is important to engage with less well resourced collections. Discussion of possible reasons why some stakeholder may have chosen not to participate.
The most recent review of discussion activity [can be found here]. Summaries in other languages are posted to the Spanish and Chinese consultation pages. Visit the consultation site to add your thoughts to these and other topics.
(Collections Catalogue - Daily Summaries).
Thanks to abentley, agosti, Anabela, bsterner, cboelling, clauden, cweiland, Debbie, dhobern, dshorthouse, ekrimmel, elyw, emeyke, ErikaSalazar, frederikberger, gdadade, Hongfeng-Wang, igladstone, JessUtrup, kcopas, L_Tilley, Lyubomir, Maofang, maperalta mareike.petersen, mhoefft, mswoodburn, neilcobb, PaoloViscardi, psemal, pzermoglio, qgroom, Rich87, sabaj, sharif.islam, strawberry, tkarim, trobertson, TuoHe, vsmithuk, waddink, WenJun and WUlate for their contributions.