University-based researchers and students are custodians of a rich source of biodiversity data that is rarely made available openly. Researchers are often reluctant to make their raw data publically available and accessible for reuse, or are ignorant of the opportunities for, and advantages of, sharing data in the wider biological community. At the same time, students of biological sciences at university level are not adequately trained in data management, biodiversity data standards, and data publication. Unlocking the potential for both students and researchers to effectively contribute to sharing and publishing practices could provide a wealth of data in a region where biological information is limited.
This shortcoming will be addressed in this project by developing a data management and data publication short-course, tailored to university students and their lecturers within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The course will be shared with universities and colleges, both within and outside the GBIF network, to promote wider awareness of GBIF in the region. Offered in various formats, the course will consider the variation in internet connectivity and teaching styles at academic institutions in the region. As a trial, feedback and input from users will help to form material for an adapted online webinar series, digital training course and CD to share with other universities.