Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Nanopublications for biodiversity: concept, formats and implementation
Lyubomir Penev, Éamonn Ó Tuama, Viktor Senderov, Pavel Stoev, Teodor Georgiev

Building: CTEC
Room: Auditorium
Date: 2016-12-07 09:15 AM – 09:30 AM
Last modified: 2016-10-16


The concept of “nanopublication” is developed by the Concept Web Alliance (http://www.nanopub.org), and is defined as “the smallest unit of publishable information: an assertion about anything that can be uniquely identified and attributed to its author.” A nanopublication includes three key components, or named graphs: (1) Assertion, or a statement linking two concepts (subject and object) via a third concept (predicate); (2) Provenance, or metadata to provide context for the assertion, and (3) Publication/citation metadata about the actual nanopublication itself. A similar form of a machine-readable formalization of knowledge are the “micropublications” which may include also evidence underlying claims and arguments to support the assertions.

Nanopublications are proposed as a complement to traditional scholarly articles allowing the underlying data to be attributed and cited, providing an incentive to researchers to make their data available using machine-readable formats thus supporting large scale integration and interoperability whilst being able to track the provenance of every contribution.

Nanopublications can be derived from research or data papers or the supplementary materials associated with them, or can also be composed de novo as independent publications used to disseminate various kinds of data that may not warrant publication as a paper. For example, one possibility is to allow export of a nanopublication in the form of a “nanoabstract” by developing a mapping from article XML to nanopublication RDF. This could be facilitated either by mapping tools or via a specially designed user interface where authors can express the most important findings in their articles as assertions in nanopublications.

Nanopublication may play potentially a highly useful role in the challenging process of community curation of biodiversity databases, such as GBIF (see, iPhylo “Annotating GBIF: from datasets to nanopublications”, http://iphylo.blogspot.ie/2015/01/annotating-gbif-from-datasets-to.html), Catalogue of Life, or taxon names registries.  The credit and recognition provided by nanopublications, may serve as an incentive for experts and citizen scientists to annotate/amend data for community use.

As machine-readable RDF-based formalizations of knowledge, nanopublications can be consumed into the Biodiversity Knowledge Graph  and will be an essential component of the RDF-based Open Biodiversity Management System (OBKMS) developed by Pensoft and Plazi. Nanopublications for some classes of biodiversity data will be implemented first in the Biodiversity Data Journal and TreatmentBank. Nanopublication formats currently under development are: (1) descriptions of new taxa; (2) renaming of taxa, synonymies (nomenclatural acts); (3) new occurrence records; (4) new traits or other biological information about a taxon.