[Taxacom] Species Pages - effort required

Thomas J Simonsen Thomas.simonsen at ualberta.ca
Mon Feb 2 12:40:20 CST 2009


Having written a couple of the pages in the Strickland Museum Felix  
Sperling referred to earlier, I concur with Cynthia's estimate of 3  
hours - when all, or at least most of the footwork has been done. I.e.  
you are familiar with all the literature, dissections have been  
completed (if necessary) and photos have been taken. So, if the  
species pages are written as an integrated part of a revision (which I  
think they ideally should be), then a couple of hours, or even less  
for some of the pages, is a good estimate. If they are written from  
scratch by people with little experience with the organisms i question  
(and hence only superficial knowledge of the relevant litterateur) it  
will take considerably longer.

The ideal situation would IMO be that species pages (and pages for  
higher-level taxa) ARE completed as an integrated part of a systematic  
or taxonomic revision. If intellectual credit is given to the  
author(s), not only from fellow researchers, but also from university  
and museum administrators, I see no reason why species pages couldn't  
be written by professional systematists and taxonomists.


Quoting "Parr, Cynthia" <parrc at si.edu>:

> 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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