Unpublished theses represent a vast and untapped source of biodiversity information in Southeast Asia, and Indonesia is no exception. As the largest country in Southeast Asia, the volume of research deposited in various research reports produced by Indonesian universities could exceed published scientific literature and gray literature combined. Unfortunately, very few of these theses are publicly available, hence the gap in Indonesian ecological data.
The Biodiversity Theses Database project (Biodiverskripsi) seeks to increase the accessibility of local biodiversity research in Indonesia by collating ecological monitoring data from student theses in a sustainable platform to assist with research and national policies concerning conservation. This project will utilize data inherent in undergraduate student theses, Masters and PhD dissertations in the form of sampling-event data from at least five Indonesian universities produced from 2000 to 2017. The project is led by Tambora Muda Indonesia, a network of young Indonesian conservation enthusiasts working to increase the contribution of conservationists in Indonesia to national biodiversity conservation practices. Together with the Indonesian GBIF node, InaBIF, the initiative will be able to boost the popularity of biodiversity research for use in future research and policy needs.
Initial activities for the project were centred around a kick-off meeting in July 2018 with project partners from five universities to outline project goals and methods. After establishing how the project activities should be implemented and participating universities signed memorandums of understanding, the team moved to produce a data enumeration protocol that could support institutions and stakeholders. Afterwards a data enumeration workshop was held in August 2018 to mentor student helpers transcribing data from theses to sampling event data following Darwin Core Standard, and thereafter an analyzing data from a data portal workshop was held in December 2018, to introduce participants to biodiversity data from GBIF and how to use it for biodiversity research. The project ended with a closing conference in March 2019 where the Biodiverskripsi portal (https://biodiverskripsi.org/) for data sharing and publishing was soft-launched, and where project efforts were summarized and outcomes for biodiversity informatics to a wider audience were promoted.
In addition to the above activities, the project team has published approx. 14,000 occurrence data from 1,330 sampling events, which via biodiverskripsi.org is also available in Indonesian, to help promote biodiversity data mobilization to a wider audience. The project also has updated the catalogue of transcribed theses available via Biodiverskripsi.org.
Post-project the team plans to publish an updated dataset, submit a data paper on ‘assessing the state of Indonesian student research’ for publication, and advocate the data portal and develop this further.