Norms and Best Practice

This document describes the ZooArchNet norms for data publication and use.

This is NOT a legal document or contract. This IS a well-considered code of conduct that anyone who publishes data to or uses data downloaded from ZooArchNet are expected to uphold. When you adopt these norms, you will both model a much needed set of ethical behaviors and help us to build a vibrant community intended to support efforts to make biodiversity data as complete, discoverable, and accessible as possible.

(ZooArchNet thanks VertNet profusely for allowing us to steal all this verbiage direct from their great site! VertNet wishes to acknowledge Canadensys for their efforts to develop the norms upon which this document is based.)

Best Practice Ethics

  • Zooarchaeology data should be as complete, discoverable, and accessible as possible.
  • Zooarchaeology data should be linked to all applicable standards so they can be aggregated, shared, and used as easily as possible.
  • Factual data in the ZooArchNet Guide to Copyright and Licenses for Dataset Publication cannot be protected by copyright and should be committed to the Public Domain (see VertNet’s guide, What Can be Protected by Copyright and Licensing).
  • Any licenses used to protect compilations or datasets (when applicable) should be licensed using standardized and machine-readable , such as licenses from the Creative Commons. The ideal is for all datasets be published under the designation of the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) waiver to affirm clearly that the data are in the public domain.
  • Data publishers have the right to protect any creative content, including, but not limited to images, sound files, videos, and descriptive/speculative text, where applicable.
  • The licensing and waiver process should be as simple as possible for data publishers and for users (results may vary from collection to collection).
  • All data publishers should get the credit they deserve when the data they curate are used by others.
  • It is worth the time and effort to achieve these goals to the greatest extent possible.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

As is common practice in scientific research, cite the resources you are using. ZooArchNet data publishers have invested considerable time, resources, and effort into collecting, digitizing, maintaining, and publishing the data you are using. They deserve credit for their work. We have provided recommended formats for citation at the end of this document.

Preferred Citations

In the absence of a citation practice that takes precedence, we recommend the following preferred formats to use when citing data published through ZooArchNet or VertNet. Square brackets denote values that must be obtained either from records within a dataset or from the description of the dataset.

Single Datasets or Aggregated Data From Multiple Datasets

ZooArchNet and VertNet provide dataset names and publishers of the data that can be used for citing entire datasets or even aggregates of multiple datasets (list each separately). Use this format:[dataset name]. [data publisher]. [link to dataset] (accessed on [date])

For example: Cowan Tetrapod Collection at the University of British Columbia Beaty Biodiversity Museum (UBCBBM). University of British Columbia. (accessed on 2014-07-28)

Single Specimen/Observation Record

ZooArchNet and VertNet include the text of a record citation in the bibliographicCitation field in the record itself for all data publishers who provide this information. If the record has a value in the bibliographicCitation field, construct the full citation by appending information about the date the data were accessed. [bibliographicCitation] (accessed on [date])

For example: urn:catalog:CM:Herps:105730. Carnegie Museum of Natural History Herpetology Collection. Carnegie Museums. (accessed on 2014-07-28).

If the record does not contain a value for bibliographic citation, we suggest you use the catalog number, dataset name, data publisher as available/[catalogNumber]. [dataset name]. [data publisher]. [link to dataset] (accessed on [date]).

For example: urn:catalog:CM:Herps:105730. Carnegie Museum of Natural History Herpetology Collection. Carnegie Museums. (accessed on 2014-07-28).

If the record does not contain a value for bibliographicCitation, we suggest you use the catalog number, dataset name, and data publisher as available/ [catalog number]. [dataset name]. [data publisher]. [link to dataset] (accessed on [date]).

For example: 105730. Field Museum of Natural History (Zoology) Bird Collection. Field Museum. http// (accessed on 2014-07-28).

Share Knowledge

Let ZooArchNet data publishers and the broader community know if — and how — you have used data from the network. Sharing helps:

  • ZooArchNet to understand value of this project to you and the community and to create better tools and services for your use.
  • Data publishers to showcase their efforts and encourages them to continue to improve data quality and maintenance of collections.
  • You and your work reach a wider audience through an expanded presence. (Yes, we publicize and celebrate the work that people do with data published through ZooArchNet.)
  • Everyone – data publishers, bioinformatics projects, and researchers – to raise the money needed to keep the data, products, services, and research alive.

You can contact us or share your work with any member of the ZooArchNet team directly.

Communicate with the data publisher(s) directly. Let them know if you have comments or questions, notice errors, or want more information about the data they publish. We’ve provided you with three ways to start a conversation:

  • Contact the data publisher directly using the contact information provided within each dataset published through ZooArchNet or submit a data issue by clicking the flag at the top of every specimen record published.
  • Use the feedback form provided on the ZooArchNet CONTACT page.

Respect the Data License Waiver

Understand and respect the data license or waiver under which the data are published. Whenever possible, ZooArchNet places selected licenses and waivers in the rights field of every record and in the dataset metadata. In some cases, data publishers have published using non-standard terms of use. These terms could be located in many possible locations in the dataset, so please review the data fully before you use it.

To help data publishers make the best decision about how to license or waive rights to their datasets, and to help data users understand the waivers and licenses, we have adopted the VertNet Guide to Copyright and Licenses for Dataset Publication. Most of the data publishers who have selected a recommended Creative Commons license or waiver dedicated their data to the public domain using the Creative Commons Zero waiver (CC0).

Do not remove the public domain mark or provide misleading information about the copyright status.