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Accelerating the Digitization of Biodiversity Research Specimens Through Online Public Participation

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Elizabeth R. Ellwood et al.

This paper explores different ways for citizen scientists help in the digitizing of biodiversity records. Abstract A goal of the biodiversity research community is to digitize the majority of the one billion specimens in US collections by 2020. Meeting this ambitious goal requires increased collaboration and technological innovation and broader eng ...

DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biv005

Last Update: 2015

Data management Species populations Citizen Science

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This paper explores different ways for citizen scientists help in the digitizing of biodiversity records. Abstract A goal of the biodiversity research community is to digitize the majority of the one billion specimens in US collections by 2020. Meeting this ambitious goal requires increased collaboration and technological innovation and broader engagement beyond the walls of universities and museums. Engaging the public in digitization promises to both serve the digitizing institutions and further the public understanding of biodiversity science. We discuss three broad areas accessible to public participants that will accelerate research progress: label and ledger transcription, georeferencing from locality descriptions, and specimen annotation from images. We illustrate each activity, compare useful tools, present best practices and standards, and identify gaps in our knowledge and areas for improvement. The field of public participation in digitization of biodiversity research specimens is in a growth phase with many emerging opportunities for scientists, educators, and the public, as well as broader communication with complementary projects in other areas (e.g., the digital humanities).

Contact person: Elizabeth R. Ellwood
Contact e-mail: ellwoodlibby@gmail.com
Contact institute: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
URL(s): https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biv005

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