TDWG standards procedures

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Wed Jan 27 22:34:51 CST 1993

The follow document was presented in draft form as as chart to
participants at the TDWG meeting in Xalapa as a concise summary of the
way the business of standards is conducted in TDWG.  We are placing it
on the network for information and for comment.

The paper represents an excellent description of the way things are done
in TDWG.  However, the question can (or should) be asked 'is this the
way things should be done?'.  Could we develop/deliberate/decide
biological standards/guidelines/conventions more efficiently?  Is the
minimum 2 year (mostly 3 year) acceptance cycle responsive enough for
the biological information environment where radical things happen in a
matter of months?  Should there be more examples like the proposal and
adoption of Index Herbariorum codes as a standard at the Xalapa meeting?

If you have an opinion on this issue, type out a few words and mail it
to iopi at and/or taxacom at  It can
take the form of a formal proposal or idle thoughts in passing; either
way we can guage community feeling.  If open discussion on the network
is not your scene, send your input directly to the TDWG Editor, Ellen
Farr or to the TDWG Secretary, Rusty Russel or to me.


ps. for those of you who do not like the sterility and lack of visual
    excitement of a string 7-bit ascii characters, Ellen can provide the
    following as a formatted chart with lines boxes and similar.

--------------------- Document follows -----------------------------

Technical Discussion and Documentation Procedures for TDWG

Prepared by Ellen Farr, mnhbo001 at sivm.bitnet
                        mnhbo001 at

There are three forums for TDWG activities: The Annual Meeting, the
Mid-Year Executive Committee Meeting and the Subgroup Meetings. The
following report outlines procedures for the formation of TDWG
Subgroups, the work of the Subgroups, and the endorsement/publication
of standards and other technical documents. Current TDWG
Subgroups/Standards are listed in the appropriate section of the

Formation of a TDWG Subgroup

1. Identify a technical issue at or between meetings. Contact
   Chairman or Secretary of TDWG to request formation of a subgroup.

2. Chair nan appoints temporary convenor to initiate discussion
   during (or at next) Annual Meeting.

3. Subgroup meets at Annual Meeting. Temporary convener leads
   discussion, seeks agreement on whether to continue subgroup, and
   compiles list of potential members. Reports to final plenary
   session on the direction the subgroup will take, and seeks
   endorsement of proposed convener, technical advisor (if needed),
   and membership.

Procedure During Working Year(s)

Subgroups may A.) develop standards,
              B.) advocate adoption of existing standards,
              C.) produce technical reports, or
              D.) meet annually to discuss technical issues.

4. During the working years subgroups meet at the Annual Meetings
   and communicate among themselves during the year. The convener may
   circulate a preliminary draft document to all TDWG members in the
   mailing that precedes the annual meeting. In all cases, subgroup
   Chairs should submit a progress report to the Midyear Meeting of
   the Executive Committee and to the Annual Meeting.

5. When the subgroup has completed its work a final draft must be
   submitted to the secretariat to be included in the mailing to the
   membership two months before the Annual Meeting. The draft
   document should also be made available for review and posted on
   electronic bulletin boards. Members receiving the draft document
   should solicit comment and review by staff at their institution
   and be prepared to discuss the draft at the Annual Meeting.

   Examples: Develop/Endorse Standards - Generalized Descriptors,
             Produce Technical Report - Bar Codes, Data Dictionary,
             Data Models, File Transfer
             Discuss Technical Issues - Type and Lectotypification
             Registers, Accuracy, Degrees of Threat, Dicritical Marks

Consultation Year

6. At the Annual Meeting the draft document will be discussed and
   members will bring forward suggestions for improvements based
   on consultations in their home institutions and with colleagues.

   The annual meeting may then agree A.) in the case of a technical
   document, that the convener take it forward for editing and
   publication under the supervision of the TDWG Editors, or B.) in
   the case of a standard, that the convener make the changes
   required, and submit a final draft for formal adoption the
   following year. A standard submitted for adoption may be either a
   document initiated by TDWG or one published or in preparation by

   Examples: Accessions

Adoption Year (for Standards)

7. The convener submits a final draft of a standard to the Mid-year
   Meeting of the Executive Committee and a copy to the TDWG Editors.
   Recommendations by the Editors should be incorporated in the final
   version of the document submitted to the Secretariat three months
   before the next Annual Meeting.

8. The Secretariat shall mail a copy of the final draft standard to
   each TDWG member before the next Annual Meeting.

9. The standard will be voted on. From this point the substance of
   the standard as adopted is closed, but there will usually be brief
   discussion of editorial and publication details. Any alterations
   of substance proposed after this time are forwarded to the
   convenor to be considered for future revisions.

   Examples: Habitat Descriptors

Publication (for certain Standards and Technical Reports)

10. If the adopted standard does not exist in published form and is
    not going to be published by other means, TDWG may undertake to
    have it published. This is the responsibility of the Standards
    Editors and other members co-opted for the task.

    Examples: Names, POSS, XDF, Uses, Phytogeopgrphy

Maintenance of Standards

11. Subgroups may continue or new ones may be formed to review
    and revise existing standards or to oversee the production of
    translations into others languages.

    Examples: Geography, Authors' Names, BPH Supplement, Index
              Herbariorum Codes, ITF

--------------------- Document ends ---------------------------

Jim Croft                  [Herbarium CBG]           internet: jrc at
Australian National Botanic Gardens                     voice:  +61-6-2509 490
GPO Box 1777, Canberra, ACT 2601, AUSTRALIA               fax:  +61-6-2509 599
____Biodiversity Directorate, Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service____

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