A study to examine the operation and function of a virtual UK environmental specimen bank (UK-ESB). Final report

Chaplow, J.S.; Patel, S.; Howard, D.C.; Brown, M.J.; Shore, R.F.. 2012 A study to examine the operation and function of a virtual UK environmental specimen bank (UK-ESB). Final report. Lancaster, NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hhydrology, 29pp. (CEH Project Number: C04510, CEH Report Ref Number: LA/ NEC04510/1) (Unpublished)

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Executive Summary: 1. Environmental specimen banking is recognised internationally as an integral part of long-term environmental research and monitoring. Analysis of preserved environmental samples is often needed to detect and quantify patterns and rate of environmental change, and the emergence and progression of environmental hazards and risks. 2. National Environmental Specimen Banks have been established in several countries; they vary in scope and breadth. There are a few specialised environmental specimen holdings in the UK but no national-scale catalogue of holdings, despite an estimated annual spend of £16 million to store specimens. This lack of information results in under-exploitation of archived specimens and is a lost opportunity to facilitate world-class science and identify emerging pressures and threats on the environment. 3. An earlier project had identified key stakeholder organisations either engaged in archiving nationally important environmental specimens or who wished to utilise such specimens. These stakeholders had agreed there was a need for a national metadata catalogue of environmental specimens (subsequently termed a virtual UK-ESB). The objective of the current project was to further develop a virtual UK-ESB. Specifically, the aim was to work with stakeholders to establish the correct metadata entry fields, the search capabilities, the functionality and the nature of the hosting website of a virtual UK-ESB. 4. More than 80 stakeholder organisations that had previously expressed an interest in a UK-ESB were approached to provide feedback either electronically or by attending a stakeholder workshop. Thirty eight organisations responded. All remained interested in the UK-ESB concept and seventeen answered the survey questions. 5. Mock-ups of data entry screens, search screens and ideas around the functionality of a UK-ESB were developed by the CEH project team. These were mailed to stakeholders for feedback. Initial feedback was incorporated into the mock-ups which were then presented for discussion at a workshop comprising 15 attendees from across the specimen archiving community, CEH and the UK-EOF. 6. Workshop participants reviewed and agreed the format of 23 mandatory or optional data-entry fields for a virtual UK-ESB that, in the absence of standard for material samples and archives, were aligned with ISO19115 (geospatial metadata standard) and DublinCore (metadata standard). These fields were sub-divided into the following headings: Sample description, Categorisation, keywords and links, Storage Information and Contact information. Workshop participants also made a number of recommendations as to the format of the data entry screens and inclusion of extra fields. 7. Workshop participants reviewed options for search capabilities and made recommendations as to simple and advanced searching methods and their formats. It was also recommended that search facilities of the ESBs of other countries be examined to determine what is used, ease of use, and how they match the recommendations from the workshop. 8. Workshop participants reviewed options for functionality and agreed a detailed list of prioritised requirements. 9. Workshop participants agreed that a virtual UK-ESB should be hosted through a dedicated website that would also provide wider information, such as recently updated or added specimen holdings, most downloaded information, links to other groups, standard operating procedures, etc. 10. The next step for the development of a virtual UK-ESB is to implement the design and development ideas captured in the current report and build a test version of a virtual UK-ESB. This would be tested and refined, and could then be launched on a specifically designed website. This would need to be accompanied by a communication strategy. There is potential to link and co-brand a virtual UK-ESB with the UK-Environmental Observation Framework (UK-EOF).

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
Funders/Sponsors: UK Environmental Observation Framework (UK-EOF), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
NORA Subject Terms: General
Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 10 Oct 2012 13:02 +0 (UTC)

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