Supporting Earth Science Collections with Specify Software

Specify for the Geosciences

The Specify Collections Consortium (SCC) announces a new initiative to extend the Specify specimen data management platform to the earth sciences, to add support for geoscience museum collections of rocks, minerals, meteorites, gemstones, and related collection object types. We will extend the open-source Specify 7 web platform to include the data concepts, collection business logic, and interface customizations needed for managing geocollection data. Along with the SCC, the collaboration is co-led by the Swiss Natural History Museums of Bern, Basel, and Geneva, along with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS). The effort is funded by a grant from the Swiss Natural History Collections Network (SwissCollNet), a program of the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

Our goal is to support earth science collections with the same great tools and capabilities currently available in Specify 7 for biological collections.

The project runs from January 2023 through June 2024 and is organized in two phases. Phase 1 will gather use cases, information models, and best practices of geological collection data management, review existing computational approaches and standards, and undertake interviews of geological curators, collections managers, and researchers to capture use case requirements. Phase 2 of the collaboration will focus on design and software engineering of the earth science extension. We will release and support a production version of the extended Specify platform by mid-2024.

Invitation for Collaboration

The effort will be organized and managed as a community collaboration. We are assembling an advisory “Earth Science Extension Working Group” of geoscientists and informaticists interested in participating at any level in the requirements, specification, and implementation of the platform. We are enthused to involve researchers and staff of geological research collections to identify needed capabilities and to provide feedback on software prototypes and on pre-release versions of Specify with geoscience extensions. If you are an SCC member institution with a geological collection, please let us know. We also cordially invite researchers and staff from outside of the Consortium to participate in the development process as advisors and members of the Working Group. Virtual meetings, site visits, and other collaboration activities will be organized by SCC staff.

If you have an interest in advising or collaborating, we look forward to hearing from you. Please contact Jim Beach at the address below.

Institutional Leads

Beda Hofmann, NHM Bern,
Jim Beach, SCC,
Ben Norton, NCMNS,