Fwd: Data Entry Query

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Wed Jan 8 09:15:43 CST 2003

No disrecpect, Dan.

For entomological collections, the Entomological Collections Network,
years ago, clearly divided the task of specimen data capture into two
component: Prospective and Retrospective.  ECN endorse the concept that
ALL NEW material should be data capture as part of the labelling
process; but clearly stated that data capture of old material should
ONLY be done as part of the research process to ensure that the
identifications are correct. The specimen data from an erroneous
identified specimen is worst than no data.

Unfortunately there remains an erroneous assumption on collection
managers, even at the Smithsonian, that the material in our insects
collections is correctly identified whereas much of the material has not
be examined by a specialist in the last 50-100 years.

Obviously I know nothing of botanical collections nor vertebrate ones.


F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org  web site

>>> Daniel Janzen <djanzen at SAS.UPENN.EDU> 01/08/03 10:14AM >>>
Fran, the time/cost bottleneck that dwarfs all other costs so much as
make them almost irrelevant is that of the time/cost of quality
action by taxonomists revising/curating the collection to where you
that the specimens being databased are what you say they are
that when two different specimens are both called species X, whatever
species X, those two specimens are conspecific) - at least for
data capture of insect collections from the tropics.  Data capture for
incoming specimens is a totally different matter and needs to be
treated as

Not meaning to be disrespectful, and a non-taxonomist's observation.

Dan Janzen

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>Date:         Wed, 8 Jan 2003 11:10:33 +0000
>Reply-To: Fran Kern <F.Kern at NHM.AC.UK>
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>From: Fran Kern <F.Kern at NHM.AC.UK>
>Subject:      Data Entry Query
>I'm currently working on a project to identify and quantify time/cost
>bottlenecks in data-basing natural history collections.
>Would anyone know of similar projects happening elsewhere?  Or be able
>point me in the direction of relevant articles,  journals,  or
>Thank you for your help,
>Francisca Kern
>Rapid Data Entry Assessment  Project,  Department of Botany
>The Natural History Museum,  Cromwell Road,  London SW7 5BD

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