Containers for Biorepository Collections

Hello Specificians,

Thank you for your continued engagement and valuable input regarding the implementation and conceptualization of containers in Specify 7. We have received a number of perspectives and use cases related to containers, and we greatly appreciate your contributions. We are continuing our discussion and accepting more responses if you have any new or additional insights to share with us!

At this stage, we specifically request information on how users conceptualize containers in the context of biorepositories. If you are working with biorepository materials and have insights into the unique requirements and workflows involving containers, we would be grateful to hear from you.

We would love to hear your user stories, use cases, and any specific workflows that necessitate the use of containers in Specify 7. Additionally, if you are currently utilizing containers in Specify 6, we would be interested in learning about your experiences and any improvements you envision for Specify 7.

Your responses will greatly inform our efforts to design and implement containers effectively in Specify 7, ensuring that it caters to the diverse needs of biorepository collections.

Containers in Specify 7

30 September 2022

Some Sample Containers Use Cases:

  • Entomology: A piece of amber containing several insects.
  • Ichthyology: A collection might have a large jar of pickled fish of multiple species (not a “lot”). The jar contains many specimens, each of which have their own Collection Object record. The Container record tracks the large jar with links to the contained specimens.
  • Vertebrate Paleontology: Wooden crates containing cataloged specimens of several species from a single Collecting Event and/or Accession are stored together and linked in the database in a Container record.
  • Botany: Several lichen species and specimens are identified from the same collected twig, and a Container record associates them to that single cataloged substrate.
  • Geology: A rock could include multiple layer types, inclusions, crystals, etc. Embedded materials would be cataloged as a individual, discrete Collection Objects although associated together in the common substrate.

We invite any and all feedback on this topic! Thank you in advance!

One biorepository example I can think of is in fishes where you may have a lot made up of multiple individuals that have had tissue taken from them. Each fish may have had multiple tubes taken from it (and cataloged separately for some reason - different kind of tissue, etc.) but they will all be related to the same voucher lot thus making it difficult to know which individual fish specimen they came from. In this case, if the tissues are cataloged into a separate tissue collection, you may want to place all tissues from a single individual into a container to relate them as coming from the same individual. A stretch I know…