ORI Library submitted a session proposal (Session ID 210) to SciDataCon (The Scientific Conference addressing the frontiers of data in research) which has since been accepted. SciDataCon, which is an integral part of International Data Week (IDW), that will be held on 5-9 November 2018 in Gaborone. The theme of the week-long conference is The Digital Frontiers of Global Science.
Session topic: Preservation of Personal Biodiversity Data Collections
Session Type: Mixed Papers (research, practice papers and posters)
Biodiversity data collections become more useful when such collection is available to support further research. The data “… remain embedded within a matrix of situational and summative information (Karasti et al., 2002)”, where their scientific value can be more readily evaluated, and the data better built upon with new observations. For this reason, natural history data should be preserved with links to descriptions of the conditions under which the data was obtained. These descriptions are often found in records made up of correspondences, field notebooks, reports, photographs and other grey literature.
Materials collected by a single scholar or natural history enthusiast – as opposed to those captured by institutions and projects - are attractive candidates for capture in electronic form because they promise a resource that is much more than the sum of its parts, a resource that reflects and, to some extent, recreates the knowledge of the collector and the context in which he or she worked.
Personal biodiversity collections, while common, are at high risk because they are often created informally and stored in conditions determined by the personal resources of the collectors. Their content can remain inaccessible to other researchers throughout the life of the owner, especially if the owner wishes to produce knowledge products based on the collected data, and can be lost upon the death of the collector.
Identifying such collections, recognizing and communicating their value, and negotiating their on-going preservation and use, should be considered essential activities in the role of memory institutions as data stewards.
Digitization projects that attempt to capture this rich combination of original materials and cultural context are resource -intensive exercises that require a high level of focus, dedication and know- how as well a significant investment in technology. While it is not necessarily difficult to obtain funding for this type of project , mainly because the work can be expressed as a project with a finite lifespan, it is a challenge to embed the work in a memory institution so that existing staff gain capacity without crippling current operations. Strategies to meet this challenge are needed.
This session intends to highlight the importance of preserving local personal collections of biodiversity data, and to discuss strategies and good practice in making their content and context available to support on-going research. Presenters will share experiences and case studies of rescued collections and those that are candidates for rescue, and successes and challenges in processing these collections.
Proposals are invited for the submission of abstracts by the deadline of Monday 30th April 2018 at http//www.scidatacon.org/IDW2018/submit/.
Abstracts are invited on the proposed subtopics below;
1. Rescue of research data at risk
2. Long term digital preservation of biodiversity collections
3. Challenges associated with digitizing and preserving biodiversity data in developing countries
4. Processing biodiversity metadata for use by researchers
5. Encouraging entities and individuals to share their biodiversity collections
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