Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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The 1 Million Treatment Goal: How to create access to taxonomic treatments
Donat Agosti, Terry Catapano, Guido Sautter

Building: Elmia Congress Centre, Jönköping
Room: Rum 11
Date: 2014-10-27 12:15 PM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2014-10-16


While great effort and resources have been devoted to important components of a taxonomic cyber-infrastructure such as digitization of specimens, observation data and taxon names and concepts, taxonomic literature, however, remains a missing piece. The treatments containing nomenclatural acts are largely not freely and openly accessible in digital form, as are even the publications containing them -- due to either legal barriers or inadequate digitization. Plazi aims to fill this gap through its Treatment Repository and the Biodiversity Literature Repository. The aims are simple:

For every taxonomic treatment and taxonomic publication, there should be:

  • a stable, persistent, unique identifier, which resolves to:
    • bibliographic and taxonomic data in multiple representations (XML, JSON, RDF)
    • digital representations of the resource: PDF and XML

In this way, any taxonomic treatment or publication as well as the rich data it contains (nomenclatural, observation, bibliographic data) may be a "first class" node in an emerging biodiversity knowledge graph, and a target for links, annotations, and citations from other resources. When legal conditions permit, deeper discovery, linking, and annotation into the data and content in the treatments are enabled.

While the goal is simple, the challenges are great. Some problems and solutions are

  • bibliographic control: simply assembling high quality bibliographic metadata for each publication and treatment
  • digital conversion: from print (high volume outsourced commercial digital conversion; Imagine)
  • data enhancement: from digital images and PDF to increasingly granular and normalized XML
  • legal: assigning the appropriate license to each resource (Plazi's position on treatment non-copyrightability)
  • integration: linking and reconciling to related data in other resources (e.g., ZooBank, CrossRef, Biodiversity Heritage Library, arrangements with ZooBank to coordinate identifiers).