Minimum requirements for endorsement
It is highly recommended that endorsers check that the prospective publisher has satisfactorily addressed the questions on the following aspects:
Existence or authenticity of the institution/organization
This is to ensure that GBIF endorses only institutions or organizations known to exist. Societies and networks qualify to be treated as organizations. Individuals are not currently eligible for registration but they can publish through an institution/organization or network, and should be properly credited and cited as the owners or authors of the respective datasets. Knowing the address of the institution and the appropriate contacts will facilitate communication and networking, for example in dealing with queries and feedback on data quality. It is highly recommended that two contacts are indicated to provide an alternative in the event that one person cannot be reached.
Scope aligned with the GBIF mission
This is to ensure that nodes endorse only those institutions dealing with biological data with relevance to the current scope of GBIF. The guidance provided to prospective publishers defines such data as:
- Species occurrence records including spatial and temporal information based on observations, specimens and other evidence
- Sample-based data including measures of abundance based on defined sampling protocols
- Species checklists including area-based and thematic lists as well as taxonomic catalogues
- Structured metadata describing biological datasets
Nodes are requested not to endorse institutions that appear to hold data entirely outside the current scope of GBIF’s mission. To help with this judgment, prospective publishers are requested to provide links to example datasets and/or attach example spreadsheets that will be forwarded to nodes where available. It should be noted that some publishers may deliver data beyond their own individual institutional scope as they may host datasets from diverse institutions. If in doubt, please consult the GBIF Secretariat.
Stable data hosting services or a third party host identified
GBIF.org provides a data access service that presents an index of published primary data and metadata. The responsibility of hosting the original data remains with the data publisher or owner. Answers to this question will help the Node Manager and the Secretariat to support data publishers in finding a hosting solution if they do not yet have one. Many new publishers may not meet this requirement at the time of first registration. Node Managers should examine possible solutions that would enable this criterion to be met. The node institution itself may be able to offer a technical hosting solution, or may request such facilities from other publishers within its network. The Secretariat may be able to offer advice on alternative hosting solutions.
Acceptance of the GBIF Data Sharing Agreement
A new publisher applies for registration because it expects to publish datasets on GBIF.org. In keeping with GBIF’s commitment to promote open access and a re-use culture, publishers are expected to understand from the outset that they should not impose unnecessary restrictions on their data. To be endorsed, publishers must accept the conditions specified in the data sharing agreement. Furthermore, GBIF will in future require all publishers to assign datasets to one of the three Creative Commons licenses (CC0, CC-BY and CC-BY-NC) or their equivalent provisions.
Responsiveness to feedback
New publishers should be willing to respond to questions and feedback from users of their data. The publisher may delegate the task to individual owners of the datasets. Annotations and community curation will in future offload part of this responsibility from publishers, but the general policy remains to ensure best possible data quality at source. A negative answer to this question should not result in denial of endorsement, but Node Managers should in such circumstances encourage publishers to find alternative solutions since this responsibility is critical in furthering the quality and value of published data.
Additional guidance notes
How far should datasets be evaluated during endorsement?
While the formal endorsement of an institution does not require the evaluation of data (other than examining example datasets to ensure the institution is within the scope of a GBIF data publisher), it is nevertheless very valuable to take the opportunity of the endorsement stage to establish an ongoing working relationship between the endorsing node and the new publisher. Dataset evaluation, including the application of quality control routines, is an optional step practised by some nodes and forms part of wider community efforts to improve the fitness-for-use of data accessed through the GBIF network. Evaluation of datasets will be the subject of a separate process.
What if the endorser has doubts?
If the Node Manager has doubts on any points based on the information provided in the questionnaire, s/he should contact the prospective publisher for clarification. Node Managers are also at liberty to carry out due diligence about the organization/institution by making inquiries within the community, checking online sources or other means of investigation. The Node Manager should strive to use all available information provided by the prospective publisher, and from other sources when necessary, in making a fair judgement in the spirit of acting as a good ‘gatekeeper’ for the GBIF community and furthering its mission.
Does endorsing a data publisher have legal implications?
The endorsement process is a GBIF community procedure and not a legal process. In general, the GBIF community recommends an inclusive rather than over-restrictive approach, and where criteria are not met initially, nodes should seek potential solutions before recommending that endorsement be denied.
If an endorsement is denied, can the prospective publisher seek endorsement by another endorsing node or challenge the decision?
In principle the GBIF community should strive to be inclusive and work with prospective publishers so that they can meet the minimum requirements for endorsement. If endorsement is denied, the node should clearly explain the reasons to the Secretariat so that the decision may be communicated to the applicant. If the institution disagrees with the decision it may request the Participant node to reconsider. If the issues are not resolved, the prospective publisher may forward the request to the Nodes Steering Group (NSG), and if necessary the GBIF Executive (EC) will act as final arbiter.
Is an endorsement valid forever or can it be revoked?
In principle endorsement should be a one-time process. In the unlikely event that an endorsed institution is deemed unsuitable to continue as a GBIF publisher, a Participant node may revoke its endorsement by notifying the Secretariat and explaining the reasons. If the publisher challenges this decision and the issue cannot be resolved through discussion, the EC will decide whether the institution may continue as a data publisher. An institution whose endorsement is revoked can reapply to become a data publisher again, following the endorsement procedure as a new data publisher and demonstrating that the issues leading to its removal have been addressed.
What happens to publishers endorsed by the Participant Node Managers Committee when their country becomes a GBIF Participant?
If a country joins GBIF and there are existing publishers endorsed by the Participant Node Managers Committee, endorsement will be transferred to the new national node.
Timeliness of responses
Nodes are encouraged to indicate a reasonable time frame in which they expect to respond to endorsement requests. This will help to manage expectations of prospective publishers and avoid stalling of processes. Prompt responses will be much appreciated, and response times of over one month would not normally be considered reasonable. However, there may be good reason for delays if, for example, a node takes time to help a prospective publisher to resolve issues preventing it to meet the criteria for endorsement. In such cases, the node is requested to keep the Secretariat informed of progress on an endorsement request.