Hi Inigo –
We had a discussion of your appeal on behalf of all of the Lost Determiners.
Los Determinantes Desaparecidos?
No Determiners Left Behind!
Make Determiners Great Again!
That should cover the political spectrum.
As you know, for several other Agent roles in Specify we modeled a many-to-many relationship between Agents and their respective roles. For example, Collector is M-M with Agent, so in the database schema Collector is implemented as a join table between Agent and Collecting Event, which enables more than one Collector to be recorded in the database and shown on the forms.
With the Determination table, we included a relationship to Agent that was M-1, with no join table to support a M-M relationship and thus no multiple (Agent=person) Determiners in the interface. We thought Determiners could be handled as strings without Agent status, as our emphasis was on people involved in the creation and handling of specimens, over the roles of researchers in adding value to specimens, in this case by naming them. In retrospect, we probably should have anticipated the need to recognize the role of Determiners more directly. And perhaps other roles like the specimen preparers and mounters who could arguably be considered Agents as contributors to the specimen curation process.
It’s interesting that as the “extended specimen” and the “digital specimen object” concepts start to emerge, there will likely be more ‘Agents’ who will impact the data associated with a specimen and need to be associated with collection object records. It is still an open question where that attribution and data linking will occur, within the CMS or outside of it, although there are people and organizations thinking about such architectural things (e.g. GBIF, DiSSCo), particularly in the context of advancing their global vision for collections data.
The staff was sympathetic to your plea, and are considering extending the Specify data model in a future release to allow for multiple determiners as Agents. It would probably be late 2022 at the earliest when we would be able to do that. We would move existing Determiner records to the new relationship, but unless we can figure out away around it that update would break most existing data forms, which would need to be tweaked in the form system to handle multiple values for the Determiner field.
For any SCC member reading this thread, it would be useful to have your feedback on how important this change would be, and whether you would take advantage of it for cataloging new specimens. Here is the instant survey:
- We would begin cataloging multiple Determiners right away as Specify Agents!
- Might be nice, but we don’t really need to treat Determiners as discrete Agents in our Forms.
- Recording multiple Determiners is not an important part of our collection database activities.