The establishment of Canadensys has helped Canadian researchers and citizens to have easy access to the biodiversity data curated in Canadian universities and museums, with more than 3 million specimens and observations records published as of April 2018. As more data is made available, new opportunities for projects and needs arise from the community: how to publish new types of data and improve data quality, how to use the data available to answer critical scientific and conservation planning questions?
In order to maximize the quality of data published on both the GBIF and an Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) platforms (using Canadensys as the ALA model), and to encourage use of data for scientific research, users and partners require the possibility to learn and experience how the Canadensys and GBIF data portals work. Numerous powerful tools have been developed through the GBIF network and the Biodiversity Informatics community, but are not widely used by the people actively cleaning, sharing and analysing data in Canada. To ensure the development of best practices in Canada and in partner countries, training of the community appears as the key.
Through this project, a series of workshops will be arranged in Canada alongside the development of multilingual documentation to help users of the ALA framework and GBIF portal to efficiently use and get the most from the platforms and tools available. The workshops and documentation will be developed in coordination with partners from GBIF Spain, iDigBio, VertNet, CBIF and the Canadian Museum of Nature, with the aim to develop Biodiversity Informatics skills for data managers and users. Participants from a range of scientific communities will learn about the ALA framework, the GBIF data portal, metrics and data cleaning tools. Through practical support, there will also be opportunities for participants to work on their own datasets with guidance through the data publication process.
At the end of the project, three workshops on “Open Data and Data Preparation” have been successfully held; in Nova Scotia (Acadia University, Wolfville, October 2018), British Colombia (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 2018) and Québec (University of Montréal, Montréal, April 2019). The aims of the workshops were:
- to teach participants how to publish their data;
- how to clean and enrich them through a series of tools (Open Refine, APIs, GBIF tools, Georeferencing tools);
- how to search and download data from the Canadensys (ALA) or GBIF platforms; and
- what to do with the Biodiversity data available on these platforms.
The workshop materials, developed by the project and translated into French, together with a list of tools and other documentation used during the workshop are now available on the Canadensys Community page. The project has also updated and revised the Canadensys 7-step guide to data publication and prepared a list of mentors, as another important resource for the network to use.
Post-project plans include an evaluation of datasets published on Canadensys by workshop participants, and following a request from researchers and technicians, another workshop will be organized, re-using material developed from this project.