Developing a Protocol for Scientific Collections

Week 3
Developing a Protocol
for Scientific Collections
Natural History Institute, Prescott, AZ.
Senior Project- BS in Environmental Studies
Luna (Taide) Martínez G.
Spring 2014
Week 3
Luna (Taide) Martínez
Developing a Protocol for Scientific Collections
Week 2: Rationale for Choosing Specify 6
On this section, I will write a justification for utilizing Specify 6 as the database
software to organize the scientific collections of the Natural History Institute.
Specify 6 is a database software used to organize museum and herbarium scientific
data. It allows for the organization and management of species information, digitization of
records, and curation of collections. Additionally, the new version provides tools to track
specimen loans, exchanges, and other transactions; link images of existing specimens to
digitized records; and publish the catalog’s data online. Furthermore, it is compatible with
Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms and operates as open-source software.
Specify 6 and the NHI Collection
The Natural History Institute houses a collection of the following:
-Plants: Herbarium and images.
-Arthropods: Specimens and images.
-Media archives: Field journals, slides, photography, audio recordings, and video.
-Rocks: Teaching collection.
-Seri items.
This software can provide the NHI with tools to effectively organize said items. It
supports data from specimens, taxonomic and stratigraphic classifications, field notebooks,
and literature references, among others. In addition to providing a platform for the
organization of data, it also facilitates the management of information via repository
History Institute’s scientific collections and strengthen its institutional links with similar
efforts conducted at facilities in the Southwestern region and beyond.
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attachments. This could therefore serve as a foundation on which to build the Natural
agreements, conservation treatments, collection object container, images, and document
Luna (Taide) Martínez
Developing a Protocol for Scientific Collections
Specify 6 could meet the NHI’s collection’s needs by organizing its data in a format
compatible with other scientific collections around the world. This would place the Institute
at the forefront of similar projects in the region, and would connect it to the field of
biological research by complying with global standards of collections management.
Furthermore, Specify’s data fields are highly customizable, and they could be adapted to
the Institute’s preferences and specific needs. Tree data for taxonomy, geography, storage
location, and other fields can be linked, re-parented, and organized hierarchically in
different ways. As a result, the NHI would be able to meet both international and
institutional challenges in its data management.
Once data is made available online, Specify makes it possible for users to retrieve it
by entering queries into its search engine, which would allow them to access information in
every data table and field. Furthermore, frequently-used query templates are available,
which makes operations easier and more accessible. This would reduce the amount of work
conducted by the NHI’s staff, streamlining the data-sharing process. Resulting records can
be exported by users into Microsoft Excel files, as well as printed or saved. This opens new
opportunities for research, Independent Studies, and Senior Projects at Prescott College.
Since Prescott College is an institution that places great emphasis on field work,
Specify can play an important role in streamlining data management from its collection to
its analysis. The Workbench contains a spreadsheet data entry screen that validated new
uploaded data against the existing information, which makes it easier to improve the
process of incoming data. This software also provides georeferencing services, which go in
line with the curricular offer at Prescott College and could be used by a number of its
undergraduate courses. Temporary custom labels and report printing for in situ specimens
further improve the efficiency of data collection and entry.
As for the publication of data online, Specify’s Web Portal allows for the
similar projects. These could be utilized by students as well. Specify supports links to web
services and other online extensions and plug-ins, which makes it extremely user-friendly.
organization of outgoing copies of specimen records, while providing data formats for
Since it uses open-source codes, it can be improved upon by other software developers,
providing additional opportunities of leaning for PC students. Finally, the staff of Specify
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Luna (Taide) Martínez
Developing a Protocol for Scientific Collections
provides supporting services to institutions, including technical assistance, initial setup of
the software, data form customization, design for printed labels and reports, etc.
Based on the research I have conducted thus far, as well as the reviews I have read
regarding this software, I believe that Specify 6 could be a good fit for the NHI scientific
collections. It allows for efficient digitization and management of specimen information,
while supporting a highly customizable interface. It provides numerous services that could
benefit the Institute, such as efficient query tools, report designs for printed output, and a
streamlined process to export and import datasheets from different programs. It seems to be
extremely user friendly and relatively easy to manage, while providing technical assistance
for the few components that program developers are better acquainted with. It is compatible
with different computer platforms, web services and plug-ins, and third party applications
such as Google Earth and GEOLocate. Finally, it allows for the publication of data online
and for the management and exchange of specimens and information. All these services
seem to go in line with the Natural History Institute’s needs, and could offer a solid
foundation for the development of its scientific collections.
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