[Taxacom] Species Pages - effort required

Parr, Cynthia parrc at si.edu
Mon Feb 2 12:09:16 CST 2009

I have been following the species page discussion with great interest
(obviously) and have a few comments from the EOL perspective.

Regarding Charles' estimates: I'm currently expecting many pages to
require 3 or 4 hours of volunteer time, and also that the hourly value
of that time would be more than minimum wage. That's based on imperfect,
biased experience on a few existing projects (and see below). Not all of
them will take that long, as the info is already in databases. Another
important route will be to extract the important information relatively
automatically from existing literature, which the Biodiversity Heritage
Library and others are busy digitizing. Both of those routes also have
costs, including volunteer time, but once we've got good methods they
should allow a lot of information to be integrated (the first route) or
to be liberated (the second route) for not much additional cost. 

Oh, and there's the time for quality control. One might be able to
generate pages relatively cheaply and reduce the amount of time expert
curators (who are few, costly, and overworked!) would need to spend
reviewing it. Estimates for all of these numbers will be more realistic
after we've got more experience with these approaches. My choice would
be to try to involve many many people, so that each would not need to do
as much work, and try not to make that work "extra." 

EOL is currently running a pilot project at the Smithsonian to fund EOL
Fellows who will work to get content online. While EOL can't fully fund
the gathering of species pages content (a never ending process), we will
at least have a program you can apply to that would provide partial
salary support. Interestingly, the average number of pages that each
applicant (typically a postdoc) thought they could enable in about 1000
hours was about 250, and the average cost per page was about US $210. I
will be refining these numbers as the actual pilot plays itself out (I
hope each can do more, but they could do so by leveraging volunteer
efforts by others, so I'll have to include that in the time estimates).
I leave it to the reader to do the math as to the total cost if that's
the way we tried to do all 1.8 million species or even just 500K.

Finally, the kind of list Roger was originally talking about building,
which partly already exists at TDWG and may become easier if
incorporated into GBIF tools, will be very valuable to EOL. I know that
Roger doesn't think the EOL approach of integrating and reorganizing the
information is necessary. In any case, at this point I can tell you that
a significant part of my job involves following up such lists, and
especially working with groups that have come forward who would be on
such a list because they want to make their information more visible. 

If nothing else, some amount of integration helps us know where the gaps
are and where best to direct funds or volunteer effort.

Cyndy Parr
EOL Species Pages Group

Charles Hussey writes:

>(So using the figures above and applying the UK minimum hourly wage of
5.73 > GB Pounds (8.15 US Dollars), the cost of compiling the species
pages would > be 2,865,000 pounds (4,075,000 dollars) - OK, just raise
10 million > > dollars and get the job done in 5 years!)

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