Contractor sought to assess risk and benefits of publishing sensitive species data (closed)

Final report to evaluate implementation of generalization protocols and explore effective responses for coordinating publication of global data on sensitive species
DEADLINE: 10 May 2022

Dracaena cinnabari-iNat-newman-hero
Dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari), observed in Yemen, classified as Vulnerable (VU) on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Photo 2022 Jonathan Newman via iNaturalist Research-grade Observations, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

The GBIF Secretariat is seeking applications from qualified contractors to evaluate the risk and benefits associated with the publication of sensitive species data through GBIF and propose a consistent methodology for developing global sensitive data trigger lists. The selected contractor will conduct the work on a six-month contract for a fixed-rate fee of €15,000. The deadline for responses is 10 May 2022.


Open biodiversity data from the GBIF network plays a critical role in supporting research and decision-making as evidenced by a year-on-year increase in the number of publications using GBIF-mediateddata. Concerns on the inappropriate uses of data on sensitive species, however, place doubt on the degree to which data on sensitive species should be openly available..

In 2020, GBIF published updated guidelines on generalizing sensitive species data, which provide data publishers with protocols for generalizing data on sensitive species to mitigate the impact of potential threats. The ability of data publishers to apply generalization protocols depends on an understanding of sensitivities within the data, whether known to the data publisher or extracted from a range of species level checklists (where they exist).

This study aims to reinforce the importance of open biodiversity data and ask the questions:

  • To what extent is sensitive species data being generalized?
  • How can we improve global-scale data publishing workflows to ensure that the risks of publishing sensitive data do not outweigh the benefits?

The study

The commissioned study should include the following components:

  • A review of the literature to assess and compare the risks and benefits of publishing open biodiversity data on sensitive species
  • Identify and analyze (rationales and methodologies) sensitive species lists used at national, regional and global level and assess whether GBIF´s current data publishing practice follows existing national guidelines and protocols
  • Explore options and mechanisms for GBIF’s handling of sensitive species data at a global scale

We are seeking the best global overview achievable within the proposed six-month time frame, but we would also welcome approaches that focus on regional or local scales and/or selected taxa that allow for deeper investigation and illustration. The study should lead to a scientific publication published in an open access journal that can help guide global coordination on the publication of sensitive species data.

Project deliverables submitted with the final report should include a pre-recorded video and slide set (using GBIF template) outlining the study's approach and main findings.

The contractor is expected to have:

  • A clear vision on how to identify sensitivity within species data and from which data sources
  • Proven data analysis experience and bibliographic, text and data-mining review work
  • A track record of scientific publication in English

Key dates

  • Deadline for proposal submission: 10 May 2022
  • Expected start of contract: 1 June 2022
  • Duration of the contract: six (6) months
  • Delivery of first draft of report: 1 October 2022
  • Delivery of final draft/end of contract: 30 November 2022


It is expected that the work is carried out at the home base of the selected candidate.


The GBIF Secretariat will pay the selected contractor a fixed fee of €15,000 in three instalments.

Application procedure

Applications should be in English and include:

  1. A summary of the approach you will take to the work, including a potential outline of the proposed methodology for identifying sensitivity in datasets from global and national datasets (maximum two pages, including possible schemas)
  2. A CV, including list of publications
  3. Examples and other means of demonstrating qualifications relevant to this proposal that you led or actively participated during the past five years.

Submit proposal to by 10 May 2022.

Send questions and enquiries concerning the contract via email to Andrew Rodrigues, GBIF Programme Officer for Participation and Engagement.