Newsletter 1 - Background (20.2.2007)

On 1 March 2006 the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT) has been launched. EDIT is a European Union funded so-called "Network of Excellence".

For four years, a consortium of 26 organisations under the leadership of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) Paris is working together on revolutionising the ways of doing and presenting taxonomy:

(1) by providing suitable tools for computing environments to make the production of taxonomic revisions more effective, EDIT aims at encouraging collaboration and co-operation of taxonomists across Europe and the globe to overcome the fragmentation of taxonomic research;

(2) by building taxonomic revisions directly on the web and providing an intelligent interface for the contributors and the users that takes advantage of the possibilities of the cyber-environment, EDIT aims at positioning taxonomy as the core and fundament of all biodiversity research.

Within the frame of EDIT Work Package 6, led by the Natural History Museum (NHM) London, we will devise a web-publication structure for revisionary taxonomy. This will be done for four different "exemplar groups" (Diptera p.p., Lepidoptera p.p., Palmae and Compositae tribe Cichorieae). The latter is co-ordinated by the EDIT WP6 Taxonomic Exemplar Group at the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum (BGBM) Berlin-Dahlem.

The role of the "exemplar groups" is twofold:
(1) to assist in developing the web revision working platform and the user interface in close cooperation with the IT specialists of EDIT Work Package 5;
(2) to initiate, and act as a nucleus for, a specialist network, which uses the working plat¬form and its tools to produce taxonomic content and establishes an exemplary web revision.

The following topics need to be taken care of and are currently under investigation:
- solutions regarding desire and ability of institutions to hold and maintain their data;
- implications of parallel publications and problems with citation;
- the assignment of credit to data created as web content.