Network Activity B - Complementarity

NA B aims to establish an overview of the relative strengths collections and expertise within the SYNTHESYS consortium, optimise coordination and improve User access, and to serve as a basis for policy making at the European level.

Aims and objectives

NA B has two key aims, one is to optimise the co-ordination and improve user access to collections and expertise at a European level. NA B will gather information to allow institutions to maximise the limited resources and avoid duplication of effort at a national level. It will result in co-ordination of collection development where the acquisition of new materials will be focused on agreed areas of strength; co-ordination of human resources with respect to recruitment policies to cover required expertise on different taxonomic groups on the European, regional and national scale; and an overview of the taxonomic literature in Europe.

  • Description of the relative strengths in collections, facilities & expertise of partner institutions
  • Develop a tool to improve the quality of presentation of taxonomic data
  • Agreement on taxonomic institution development

Progress report

Strengths in collections, facilities and expertise

After developing a standard vocabulary of collection categories with respect to taxonomic groups, geographic areas, applied uses and type of object, a metadata tool using the programme FileMaker Pro was developed by ETI BioInformatics (Amsterdam). Communication with all 20 SYNTHESYS Consortium institutions was established and each institution was supplied with information regarding the survey programme and a FileMaker programme guide; each institution then downloaded its customised survey programme from the Naturalis (NNM) FTP-server.

The Institutions completed the survey with data on their collections, such as families present in collections, numbers and geographical locations. The gathering of data from over 300miliion specimens proved challenging!

Analysis of the data is currently underway and a final report will be available in July 2009. European taxonomic publication activities

Taxonomic Data Conformity Index (TDCI)

The aim of the TDCI is to improve the quality of the presentation of any taxonomic result by authors and/or publishers and to help recognize taxonomy as a full scientific activity by encouraging makers and users of taxonomic data to cite them correctly and fully as any other scientific results (citation index of taxonomists).

Firstly, the TDCI asks users to evaluate the taxonomic quality of a journal (publishing taxonomic results) by answering a series of questions. A low score should encourage them to reconsider their politics in publishing correctly any taxonomic results. It is valid for traditional and e-publications.

Secondly, it provides an e-tool for everyone or as a help for a reviewer to check and improve the taxonomic quality of a paper before submission or review. This tool targets 'taxonomy makers' with the hope to improve the quality of their work.

TDCI: The TDCI site is currently available in English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese.


A first part of the report has been completed and includes state-of-the-art, paper publication history, taxonomic publication review and taxonomic codes. Work is underway on part two; e-publication in taxonomy.

Digitisation meeting

A meeting was held in Paris (June 2007) organised by the Project Coordinator with presentations of current initiatives, in particular the Biodiversity Heritage Library initiative ( Discussions took place on how these initiatives can be taken forward in Europe. A formal agreement to participate by the participants (representatives of major institutions in UK, Germany, The Netherlands and France) was achieved. Digitisation meeting minutes.

Outcomes and deliverables


A first part of the report has been completed and includes state-of-the-art, paper publication history, taxonomic publication review and taxonomic codes.


There are no further NA B events planned

Where next

All data on strengths in collections, facilities and expertise will be passed on to the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy. They will use the results of NA B to develop an agreement on taxonomic institution development.