Wednesday, 23 December 2015

GB/3D Type Fossils Online – Highlights of 2015

The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences trophy 
awarded to the GB/3D British Type Macrofossils online project, April 2015

As 2015 draws towards its close, it is a time for reflection on progress and highlights for the year. Work continues on adding and updating entries. We have, for example, a number of new images to add to existing entries. We are also keen to discuss with the curators of collections not yet included how we can add their material. Provided the data is in the correct format, adding it is fairly simple and quick. We are also looking at ways to finance extending the database to include figured and cited specimens and other good representative material to make the database more comprehensive. Crowdfunding is one method under consideration. 

Graph showing monthly visits to the GB/3D website for the last two years

One highlight has been the growth through the year in visits to the GB/3D website. After a high of 72,000 visits during September 2013, immediately after the launch, monthly visits declined to 2,500 a year ago – but they have been rising steadily through 2015 and have now been over 4,000 for several months. Such behaviour is well documented in project cycles – we have been through the peak of “euphoria” and the trough of “despondency” and are hopefully entering a prolonged period of “optimism”.

Another highlight has been the coining of the first GB/3D DOIs for three casts of sections of 'Plesiosaurus' megacephalus in a recent Palaeontologica Electronica paper by Adam S. Smith - see . Adam has prepared a guest blog on the subject.

The main highlight of the year was the receipt of the International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences, presented at EGU in Vienna, in April. 

The award was created to improve the prospects for preservation and access of research data, particularly of dark data, and to share the varied ways that these data are being processed, stored, and used. Lack of access may be due to the nature of the formatting (e.g., analogue data, magnetic tapes that lack format description) or the nature of the data curation and/or organization (e.g., no formal database repository, no backup), such that those data cannot be shared. Consequently, the progress of research suffers unless extra steps are taken to recover the data or transform them to a dependable electronic media. 

In our case, the award marked the provision of a single database to locate type material in numerous museum collections, and to facilitate access by providing high resolution images and stereo-anaglyphs, and in many cases, 3d digital models. 

Mike  Howe (National Geological Repository, British Geological Survey) – centre -   receiving the award from  Kerstin Lehnert, (Director, IEDA) and Dan Lovegrove, ( Elsevier).

GB3D winner.tif