Information for Contributors

Tips on creating a project – A data project can be organized however you desire. Mostly it is up to you to organize unpublished data on MorphoSource in a way that makes the most sense. Often times, it makes sense to organize by ‘study’ or ‘publication’ (bibliographic reference). Once you publish the contents of a project, the original logic behind the grouping will have little, if any, effect on its later usage. This is because information like bibliographic reference, element description, taxonomy, etc. is associated directly with specimens or media. Thus, the original project affiliation doesn’t affect the ability of visitors or users to discover the media later. One thing that should be considered in defining the scope of unpublished projects is who the collaborators are. You should limit the scope of your projects so that you can admit collaborators as members without compromising agreements they have with other sets of collaborators. Another thing for you to consider is what third party restrictions you have on ultimate publication of your media. For instance, if you have signed over copyright ownership of your data to the museum holding the physical specimens, it might be simpler if the projects holding those specimens did not also include other specimens not covered by that agreement. This is only a suggestion, as publication restrictions can be modified even at the level of media – i.e., some elements of a media group can remain unpublished, while others are published, or different media files in a single group can be published with different levels of restriction.

Adding specimens to a project – The first step in adding media to a data project is adding specimens. Once a specimen is added, you must indicate its institution, and can then associate a taxonomy with it. At this point, you can begin adding media and media groups to the specimen. Before adding a new specimen, please be certain that the specimen is not already entered into the MorphoSource database. This can be done by typing the numerical part of the specimen number into the appropriate field. If the system returns a specimen with the same number and correct institution and collection code, click on that record to add it to your project. If the specimen doesn’t show that number, double check that it is absent from the database by typing it into the search field on the main page. Once you start to create a new specimen record, you will see that there are three separate entry fields. The first entry field is for the institutional code (e.g., AMNH, USNM, MCZ, and UCMP) the second field is for the collection code (for instance, at the AMNH there are many sub-collections with overlapping numbers but different collection codes. It is likely that both AMNH-M-12345 and AMNH-FM-12345 exist, where the “M" in the first indicates “Mammalogy" collections, while the “FM" in the latter indicates the “Fossil Mammals" collection).

Adding an institution to your project – Before adding a new institutional record for specimens you plan to include, please be certain that those institution(s) are NOT already entered in the database by another data author. You can do this by typing part of the institution name into the appropriate field and seeing if the system suggests your institution or finds no matches. If you find no matches, you should also go to “browse" → “institutions" and scroll through all those present to make sure. If you see no exact matches, but see an institution that you think probably represents yours, you should contact the ‘data author’ of that institution to check whether in fact it is the same, and whether that data author needs to make any changes to the way he/she has listed the facility. Please DO NOT enter new facilities when you suspect that your facility is already represented but with some inaccuracies in the name.

Adding a facility to your project – Before adding a new facility record, please be certain that the facility responsible for generating your digitizations is NOT already entered in the database by another data author. You can do this by typing part of the facility name into the appropriate field and seeing if the system suggests your facility or finds no matches. However you can also go to “browse" → “facilities" and scroll through all those present. If you see no exact matches, but see a facility which you think probably represents yours, you should contact the data author of that facility to check whether in fact it is the same, and whether that data author needs to make any changes to the way he/she has listed the facility. Please DO NOT enter new facilities when you suspect that your facility is already represented but with some inaccuracies in the name.

Utilizing taxonomy – Morphosource does not currently enforce or recommend a formal taxonomy because we feel the range of potential entries is too large. For each specimen in your projects please at least enter taxonomy at the level of genus and species and provide the taxonomic reference if possible (supplying the reference is not required). Feel free, but do not feel compelled, to enter taxonomy at levels above the genus. Please do not leave taxonomy blank. If you are adding a specimen of ambiguous affinities enter the most specific grouping possible and then use ‘incertae’ as genus and ‘sedis’ as species. If you are adding media for a specimen already present in MorphoSource, and feel the associated taxonomy is incorrect you have two options: 1) you can add a note to your media files stating your preferred taxonomic status, or 2) you can contact data author who created the specimen number and taxonomic association to discuss the appropriateness of a change in the database.