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Data Management Plan for the Distributed System of Scientific Collections

26 February 2020


With around 1.5 billion specimens of plants, animals, insects, fossils, rocks and minerals in European natural heritage collections, and digitization of these proceeding apace, never has it been more important to have a coherent plan for the management of petabytes of natural heritage data over the coming decades.

After 20 months of work, informatics and collection data management experts in the EU Horizon 2020-funded ICEDIG project (“Innovation and consolidation for large scale digitisation of natural heritage”) and CETAF (“Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities”) have completed a proposal for a Data Management Plan for the coming European Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo) research infrastructure.

Contributing to latest developments in scientific data management thinking, DiSSCo’s data strategy ensures that digital data about our natural world, valuable for addressing a wide range of scientific questions and societal challenges will be easily findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (‘FAIR’) for decades to come.

The lead author of the Plan, Alex Hardisty, Director of Informatics projects at the Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics says: “Data management today requires active stewardship to ensure that all published data can be easily found, accessed and used by large numbers of scientists around the world. Digitisation of hundreds of millions of physical specimens creates vast numbers of digital specimens, which act as surrogates on the Internet useful for many research purposes. We plan to assign and index a globally unique persistent identifier to each digital specimen and its associated data and to link that unambiguously to the physical specimen the data comes from.”

Dimitris Koureas, Programme Director for International Biodiversity Infrastructures at Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Netherlands) and Coordinator for the DiSSCo research infrastructure, welcomes the Plan, saying: “For a data research infrastructure, like DiSSCo, developing a reliable and Data Management Plan is at the core of its business. The new DiSSCo DMP ensures DiSSCo will be able to further open up and link the evidence on our planet’s biological and geological diversity. And do so in ways that enable our scientists to better understand and model life on earth.”

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