State of the Art in Digitisation

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In our Work Package on imaging and other forms of physical data extraction from collection specimens, a series of deliverables documents the state of the art in different techniques. The first two of these deliverables have recently be published on our website.

The first one is "Mass-imaging of microscopic and other slides". They are unusual compared to other preservation types as they are rarely curated as separate collections but stored as supplementary collections alongside “classical” collection categories. The preservation methods, labelling practices, dimensions and storage are very variable. These are likely two of the reasons why there has been limited mass-imaging methodologies published and considered for slides as a discrete collection. The work package partners have therefore produced two publications out of their work on microscopic slides:

  1. Allan E, Livermore L, Price B, Shchedrina O, Smith V (2019) A Novel Automated Mass Digitisation Workflow for Natural History Microscope Slides. Biodiversity Data Journal 7: e32342. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.7.e32342
  2. Allan, E. L., Price, B. W., Shchedrina, O., Dupont, S., Livermore, L., & Smith, V. (2018, December 10). A Low Cost Approach to Specimen Level Imaging of Natural History Microscope Slides using a DSLR System. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/dvmsh

The first one describes an inventory method aimed at capturing label data and other general metadata about the slide and hopefully also acts as an introduction to collection/digitisation managers considering mass digitisation of slides with a discussion on mass-imaging practices of microscope slides in other sectors. The second describes a methodology for mass imaging of microscope slide subjects that can be used to supplement the inventory level digitisationdescribed in the first paper. Both papers are mainly based on tests with entomological collections but successful trials on other collection types in both Earth and Life collections were also conducted. 

The second deliverable is on mass imaging of skins and other vertebrate material. The work package partners applied conventional photography and automated imaging for three-dimensional dry collections. No automated imaging solutions were found for these types of specimens, which is due to variability of material and complexity of handling these specimens. Imaging labels for data entry and databasing purposes should be achievable however with a two-tiered process: According to the authors it is advisable to first create a record with minimal information and include an image of the label. In a second step the misisng data can then be added from the image. This is especially when data entry is partial or requires interpretation.

Both - and all other deliverables - can be found in our repository. The work package will soon deliver more outputs focusing on the mass imaging of liquid samples and pinned insects, best practices for herbariums, 3D capture methods, and the potential of robotics in this field.

So come back here to read it all in detail!

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