Tuesday, 28 February, 2017


A successful collaboration of several CETAF researchers came to fruition earlier this week as DATABASE - The Journal of Biological Databases and Curation published the article "Actionable, long-term stable and semantic web compatible identifiers for access to biological collection objects" in their first issue of 2017. This peer-reviewed article is the result of the teamwork of 18 authors across 12 institutions, with Anton Güntsch from the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin being the lead author. It is the result of a long standing collaborative effort for stable referencing of specimens used in scientific studies which demand a common and robust basis for data retrieval, integration and reproducibility of data experiments. Stable identififers based on HTTP URIs and Linked Open Data principles with redirection to human readable and machine processable representations of the physical objects fulfil these requirements. In pilot projects, these have now been established at 13 CETAF institutions. 

The abstract of the article reads as follows:

"With biodiversity research activities being increasingly shifted to the web, the need for a system of persistent and stable identifiers for physical collection objects becomes increasingly pressing. The Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities agreed on a common system of HTTP-URI-based stable identifiers which is now rolled out to its member organizations. The system follows Linked Open Data principles and implements redirection mechanisms to human-readable and machine-readable representations of specimens facilitating seamless integration into the growing semantic web. The implementation of stable identifiers across collection organizations is supported with open source provider software scripts, best practices documentations and recommendations for RDF metadata elements facilitating harmonized access to collection information in web portals."

Published under a Creative Commons CC-BY licences, the article is open access and can be read in its entirety here. You can also find more information about the stable identifiers and the institutions in which they have been implemented here