European Commission logo
Energy, Climate change, Environment

Citizen Scientists rescue two historical marine datasets through an EMODnet Biology initiative

News article |
The stations as presented in the historical report of the Zooniverse citizen science project (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

EMODnet Biology provides free and open access to recent and historical marine biodiversity data. The historical data require various steps before they are published online. It often starts with the digitisation of the data held in books, articles or reports. The EMODnet Biology team tested the citizen science approach by creating two interactive projects for data digitisation. The citizen scientists’ role was to transcribe data and metadata of historical marine surveys and make those available to the public.

Two platforms were used for this trial, DoeDat  , a platform developed, hosted and maintained at the Meise Botanic Garden in Belgium and Zooniverse , the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research.

The data rescued through the DoeDat platform was digitised by 4 volunteers and was divided in 36 tasks. The data rescued via Zooniverse involved 14 volunteers with the work divided in 5 tasks.

The transcription included all of the data and metadata (e.g. abundance, coordinates, station number, date, and sampling protocol) that were available in the original written documents.

Following the digitisation, data managers will process, quality control and reformat the data so that it follows the same standards as any other biodiversity dataset published via EMODnet Biology.

This trial was only possible thanks to all of the volunteers that came together to assist professional researchers in data publication efforts. To them goes a sincere thank you and appreciation for the effort undertaken. It was EMODnet Biology’s goal to make it easy for anyone to contribute to academic research, by using their own computer, at their own convenience, doing something that was possible by following simple digitisation and curation steps that required no prior specialised background, training, or expertise.

A full report providing details on the analysis outcome of various platforms assessed ahead of the trial, as well as the successes and constraints will be published shortly. The lessons learned will be used in a future phase of EMODnet Biology in assessing a large-scale initiative to engage volunteers in data rescue efforts.