[Taxacom] bioRxiv preprint: To increase trust, change the social design behind aggregated biodiversity data

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Jun 30 03:09:21 CDT 2017

It is good to see attention paid to this issue.

What seems to be missing is the nomenclatural
angle. There are a lot of names that may not be
used for nomenclatural reasons. An aggregator
is in a unique position to do something about
these: homonyms especially will leap out if
datasets are added together.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nico Franz" <nico.franz at asu.edu>
To: "TAXACOM" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:23 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] bioRxiv preprint: To increase trust, change the social
design behind aggregated biodiversity data

> Dear Taxacom: Bit of a different, social angle here on the biodiversity
> aggregation/trust issue. Hopefully of interest to some. Cheers, Nico
> http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/06/28/157214
> Abstract
> Growing concerns about the quality of aggregated biodiversity data are
> lowering trust in large-scale data networks. Aggregators frequently
> respond
> to quality concerns by recommending that biologists work with original
> data
> providers to correct errors "at the source". We show that this strategy
> falls systematically short of a full diagnosis of the underlying causes of
> distrust. In particular, trust in an aggregator is not just a feature of
> the data signal quality provided by the aggregator, but also a consequence
> of the social design of the aggregation process and the resulting power
> balance between data contributors and aggregators. The latter have created
> an accountability gap by downplaying the authorship and significance of
> the
> taxonomic hierarchies - frequently called "backbones" - they generate, and
> which are in effect novel classification theories that operate at the core
> of data-structuring process. The Darwin Core standard for sharing
> occurrence records plays an under-appreciated role in maintaining the
> accountability gap, because this standard lacks the syntactic structure
> needed to preserve the taxonomic coherence of data packages submitted for
> aggregation, leading to inferences that no individual source would
> support.
> Since high-quality data packages can mirror competing and conflicting
> classifications, i.e., unsettled systematic research, this plurality must
> be accommodated in the design of biodiversity data integration. Looking
> forward, a key directive is to develop new technical pathways and social
> incentives for experts to contribute directly to the validation of
> taxonomically coherent data packages as part of a greater, trustworthy
> aggregation process.
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