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Open Data and Research Data Management at Naturalis

Posted on 11-05-2017 by Martin Rücklin

Dealing with the ever increasing amount of digital data

Technological development never stops and keeps changing the way researchers explore the world and collect data. This offers lots of opportunities, but also challenges. In recent years, the use of photogrammetry, laser scanning, Micro-CT, and even Synchrotron scanning for 3D imaging of biological structures has added an enormous amount of information to the scientific database.

3D models can be used for teaching, exhibitions, and 3D printing by everyone. However, necessary standards for sharing these data are to date lacking. Recently, an initiative of 45 authors led by scientists at Bristol University proposed policies and standards for 3D data. This group also included Naturalis researcher Martin Rücklin. The resulting paper can be found here:




This 3D data sharing initiative responds to the worldwide demand for guidelines on how to store and share the rapidly increasing amounts of data with the scientific community and the public. Also in other research fields, large data volumes are generated and crucial, for example in molecular research that uses high-throughput sequencing methods. Recently, Rutger Vos from Naturalis suggested ten simple rules on how to manage these data:


Funding organizations such as the Dutch NWO support community organizing around open data and request data management plans for funded research. These proposals provide guidelines and have naturally led towards a project on research data management at Naturalis, starting in May 2017. The project, in its turn, should formulate an integrated open data and science policy and a strategy for its implementation at Naturalis. Data should be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and in the future form the basis for a virtual digital museum that will complement the physical collections and museum exhibitions at Naturalis.


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