Meeting date: August 6, 2009
Megan and Chris talked about the Herbaria's SMaSCH system as it relates to CollectionSpace.
SMaSCH has collecting event information in the Accession table. CollectionSpace will be moving collecting events to a separate table and treat it as an authority. Is this OK? Should be better.
Lam: I'm not exactly sure, but I think it in the same table in smasch because of the way xdb works: One screen per table for data entry (update/insert/delete). This works for smasch because an accession and a specimen is the same thing. This is not the case in other disciplines.
Field notebooks: Though not a part of SMaSCH, Megan had also read the MVZ functional requirements document
She heard about this issue at AMNH too. However, the field notebook needs sound a little different, and so we need a use case (or three) around this. Chris said that for the natural history museums, seamless integration of field notebooks and collections information is very important, but that doesn't mean that field notebooks need to be "in" the collection management systems. An integration with something like GReF might be sufficient (http://code.google.com/p/gref-mvz/).
Systems integration: Chris talked about the importance of system integration for the natural history people. Megan created a placeholder for this topic on the Functional Requirements page http://wiki.collectionspace.org/display/collectionspace/Functional Requirements; Chris will work with Lam to begin populating some use cases.
Taxonomies: We need some use cases to demonstrate the capabilities that the Herbaria (and other natural history museums) need. E.g., start with a standard fish taxonomy to populate your system; extend it with local names. Much of this will match what is envisioned for CollectionSpace vocabularies already. We also should describe use cases around some of the entities and capabilities described in the Arctos page
though modified to take into account Lam's response to Patrick's email:
In terms of taxon relations, SMASCH only keeps track of some synonyms and accepted names. The document that Chris referenced is specific to Arctos, and it needs to be updated. There are now a couple dozen taxon relationships, most of which came from ITIS. (E.g. synonym of, orthographic variant (misspelling), original name, valid name for, nomen dubium, hybrid offspring of, parent of)
What exists in Arctos is far from ideal. The taxon name thesaurus was supposed to resolve taxonomy issues, but many, many years went by without results before the project was finally put on hold last year. And now that Debbie has moved on, I'm not sure where that leaves us.
There is one major difference in how taxonomy is handled in SMASCH vs. Arctos. In SMASCH, they use their taxonomy for identification/determinations, which is why taxon relations is not really necessary. In Arctos, identifications/determinations are separate from taxonomy.
We should consider use cases around the ordering of information in a taxonomic system as well as its hierarchical capabilities. The Getty AAT is also hierarchical and CollectionSpace intends to be able to parse a multi-level hierarchical controlled vocabulary, find parents/children, associate objects with any level in the hierarchy, move nodes from one place to the other, and show where the object is identified in terms of the hierarchical controlled vocabulary. But we should write out those use cases. Common names: We need a use case describing how these connect to scientific names. Chris will create a wiki page under functional requirements/authorities, and work with Lam (and John and Joyce) to populate some use cases.
Committees: I know this is an important entity to the Herbaria, but I don't know why. Is this different? Are committees just groups that can be associated with collecting events and ultimately (and perhaps optionally) collected specimens?
Lam: Committees are made up of one or several people. Usually, the first person in the committee name is the committee chair. Committees can have several functions, e.g. collection, annotation, publication. The committee may or may not be the same as the collector (i.e. the person who owns the collector number for the accession).
While we are focusing on the Herbaria here, we will want to keep the other natural history museums in mind and have them review this. Megan and Chris talked briefly about the Botanical Garden -- that will be interesting since they have some very different functionality (e.g., propagation) and have some capabilities that might be different (e.g., recording growth and death in ways that are perhaps unique).