Senckenberg Research Institute and Museum, Frankfurt

Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem


TDWG 2000: Digitising Biological Collections
Taxonomic Databases Working Group, 16th Annual Meeting
Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, Germany, November 10-12, 2000


Mingguang Li* & Suhua Shi*

A practical standardisation method for herbarium databases

* College of Life Sciences, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou  510275, China


Standardized data are a necessity in a computerized database. Only data strictly formatted according to recognized standards can produce complete and meaningful query results. Plant specimen data, however, having been collected by people from different countries and recorded in different languages for about two centuries, do not adhere to standards. 
Among specimen data, taxonomic data is an area of special complexity. It might change because misidentifications are corrected, because of the change of a taxon's position, because a synonym is replaced, or by correction of misspellings. Most databases try to standardized the data during data entry and many database only record the last accepted taxon data. This will help to avoid misspellings and greatly simplify the identification history but it requires the typist to recognize and correct non-standard data and thus unavoidably change or omit the original data. 
We believe that a database should faithfully record the whole history of the plant specimen, including the complete determination history. The Plant Specimen Database developed in Zhongshan University does not require typists to standardize the data. In fact, we asked the typist to record the data exactly as they were written We are leaving the standardization processes to be performed by the database manager or taxonomists on separate data tables, thus conserving the original data unchanged for later scrutiny.


TDWG | Participants | Presentations | Senckenberg Museum | BGBM Biodiversity Informatics

This meeting was co-sponsored by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) 

Page editor: W. Berendsohn, BGBM 2000.