Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Invitation: Survey on Biodiversity data sharing & Data archiving policy

Dear colleague,

We sincerely invite you to take the Survey on Biodiversity data sharing & Data archiving policy. It takes only about 5-7 minutes. Descriptions of the survey are provided below.

The survey is open until 10 September 2011, but we invite you to complete it as soon as possible. Your participation and support are immensely valued!

Please follow this link to the anonymous survey:

If you have any question, please email us at huangxl@ioz.ac.cn or huangxlidae@hotmail.com

Thank you and best wishes,

Xiaolei Huang, Gexia Qiao, Bradford Hawkins, Fumin Lei, Ruiling Zhang

(ps: If you have already received this invitation and taken the survey, thank you very much and no need to take it again.)



Good biodiversity data (e.g. species distributions) are fundamental to biodiversity research, natural resource management and conservation policy making. Public biodiversity databases hold great potential benefit for both science and practice. The established databases (e.g. Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Species2000, Encyclopedia of Life) and different national campaigns have different main goals of their own. For example, Species2000 is building a global species checklist (http://www.sp2000.org/), EoL is building “an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth” (http://www.eol.org/; Wilson, 2003), and GBIF focuses on occurrence data from archived specimens in natural history collections (http://www.gbif.org/; Edwards et al., 2000). According to its aim and database structure, GBIF may be best suited to data exploring and biodiversity meta-analyses. However, due to some challenges such as funding and scientist involvement, gathering data into public databases is not so easy (Yesson et al., 2007; Thomas, 2009), and therefore, databases might lag behind the expanding amount of biodiversity data.

Besides current operational modes of biodiversity databases, adoption of a data archiving policy by biodiversity and conservation journals would be expected to sustainably increase data quantity and quality of biodiversity databases (Huang & Qiao, 2011). Of course, cooperation and coordination between databases and journals are needed. In fact, GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/) can serve as a successful model for biodiversity databases. A development crucial to its success was convincing journal editors to make electronic submission of sequence data a condition for publication in its early stage (Strasser, 2008).

Recently, a group of key journals in evolution and ecology began to implement formally a joint data archiving policy with the aim to preserve paper-related data (http://datadryad.org/jdap; Whitlock, 2011). This is a good example of how the scientific community promotes efforts in data sharing. As another example, different divisions of the US National Science Foundation has formulated data archiving policies to facilitate the process of making data that has been collected with NSF support available to other researchers. Although sharing data (related to published papers) has become more common, some scientists actively or passively resist sharing primary data when considering costs and benefits.

Therefore, we design this survey to study the attitudes, experiences and expectations about data sharing and data archiving policy of researchers in the fields of biogeography, biodiversity and conservation.

Edwards J.L. et al. (2000) Interoperability of biodiversity databases: biodiversity information on every desktop. Science 289: 2312-2314.
Huang X.L., Qiao G.X. (2011) Biodiversity databases should gain support from journals. Trends Ecol. Evol. 26: 377-378.
Strasser B.J. (2008) GenBank—natural history in the 21st century? Science 322: 537-538.
Thomas C. (2009) Biodiversity databases spread, prompting unification call. Science 324: 1632-1633.
Whitlock M.C. (2011) Data archiving in ecology and evolution: best practices. Trends Ecol. Evol. 26: 61-65.
Wilson E.O. (2003) The encyclopedia of life. Trends Ecol. Evol. 18: 77-80.
Yesson C. et al. (2007) How global is the global biodiversity information facility? PloS One 2: e1124. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0001124


To understand the attitudes, experiences and expectations about data sharing and data archiving policy of researchers in the fields of biogeography, biodiversity and conservation.


Online questionnaire
Online questionnaire using Qualtrics: confidentially and anonymously.

Invitations to whom
Active researchers in the fields of biogeography, biodiversity and conservation.

Data distribution
We plan to discuss with editor of a leading biogeography/biodiversity journal, and wish to publish the results of this study in it. To maximize the usefulness of data obtained in this study, we will openly archive the questionnaire and results on a permanent website or data repository.

About the team

Xiaolei Huang, Ph.D.
Xiaolei Huang is an Assistant Professor at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a Regional Coordinator (China) of the International Biogeography Society. He is interested in evolutionary causes of biodiversity patterns (character, distribution, relationship), and some matters of general interest, such as how to promote the collection and sharing of biodiversity data.

Gexia Qiao, Prof.
Gexia Qiao is the Director of the National Zoological Museum of China and a Professor at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is the principle investigator of projects to digitize animal specimen data in natural history collections in China.

Bradford Hawkins, Prof.
Bradford Hawkins is a Professor at Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Biogeography.

Fumin Lei, Prof.
Fumin Lei is a Professor at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is the principle investigator of Ornithological Research Group and Associate Editor-in-Chief of the journal Chinese Birds.

Ruiling Zhang, Ph.D. candidate
Ruiling Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate in Prof. Gexia Qiao Lab. She studies biogeography issues in the eastern Himalayas and southern China. She is doing journal data survey related to this study with Dr. Xiaolei Huang.


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