Data publishing is the act of making data available on the Internet, so that they can be accessed, downloaded, analysed and reused by anyone for research or other purposes.
The term is often used interchangeably with 'data sharing', but data publishing implies something more. It is a way of using common practices and standards to make sure that data really can be discovered and reused effectively, and that data owners and custodians get the recognition they deserve for making datasets public.
Since GBIF was established in 2001, data publishing has been at the heart of our activities. This section explains why you should become part of our growing network of data publishers, and how you can go about it.
GBIF deals with three types of biodiversity data:
- Metadata (data about data)
- Occurrences (observations, specimens etc)
- Checklists (names)
Metadata are structured descriptions of datasets giving essential details such as the geographic and taxonomic scope of the data, methods of collection or observation, contact details and citation requirements. They help to give context to datasets and enable users to assess whether data are fit for use in a particular research project or application.
Occurrences are records that document a 'collection event' - evidence that a particular, named organism was found at a particular time and place. Also known as primary biodiversity data, occurrences document the 'what, where, when, how and by whom' of our exploration of the planet's species. An occurrence record can be based on an observation in the field, vouchered (labelled) specimen in a museum or herbarium, or other evidence.
Checklists are lists of scientific names of organisms grouped into taxonomic hierarchies. They serve two main functions: first, they provide data that help to enrich information about particular species, for example by including them on national checklists, and on lists of invasive or threatened species; and they provide taxonomic 'backbones' around which species information can be organized.