Fwd: Data Entry Query

Roger J. Burkhalter rjb at OU.EDU
Wed Jan 8 10:11:01 CST 2003

I see this as a very worthwhile and important topic. I would think that
most of the bottlenecks in databasing museum (not idividual) natural history
collections would occur on the cusps of the collections and not on the core,
i.e. Archeology, Ethnology, and Paleontology.
 Their are significant bottlenecks with Invertebrate Paleontology and
Paleobotany databases. The lack of appropriate and current taxanomic
authority files that cover the range of taxa Invert Paleo or Paleobot
typically covers is one bottleneck. Another bottleneck for us is the sheer
size of the collections (over 500,000 specimen lots). Data entry at the rate
of one lot per 2 min for two people would take over 4 years from scratch (8
hrs per day, 40 hrs per wk). I agree totally with Barbara Thiers that
potential inaccuracies in specimen determination (or for that matter an exact
locality) is not a reason to defer data entry. I also can see Christian
Thompson's point about prospective and retrospective specimens. I have
entered into a database all of our primary type and figured specimens
published in refereed journals (about 8500 specimens), and I have entered all
the specimens from current collection activities. The remaining specimens are
entered as time allows, starting with unpublished thesis/dissertation
collections, referred specimens, and named collections (i.e. Tom Amsden
middle Paleozoic brachiopods). The bulk of the collections have the majority
of taxonomic problems and have been relagated to last in the data entry
process. Some of these collections were never numbered and I need to complete
other paperwork as well.

Roger J. Burkhalter
Curator/Archivist, Invertebrate Paleontology
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
University of Oklahoma

>>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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