Why should I register my institution and collections?
GenBank and the other two members of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (EMBL and DDBJ) have approved a new structured format for the specimen_voucher data field. Submitters may still enter information on their voucher specimens as free text, but the new structured format will enable hyperlinking to specimen records.
This registry will be used by GenBank, EMBL, and DDBJ as the controlled vocabulary for linking to voucher specimen records.Top
Where did this list of institutional acronyms come from?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI, GenBank's parent organization) assembled a database of about 7,000 institutional acronyms from several sources:
- Published compendia of biorepositories such as Index Herbariorum,
- Lists of discipline-specific biorepositories published in professional journals, and
- Institutional acronyms submitted with GenBank records.
Who will use the data?
GenBank, EMBL, and DDBJ will use the registered data as a look-up table for building hyperlinks to specimen databases. The registered data will also be made freely available through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Biodiversity Collection Index (BCI), an initiative launched by GBIF to assemble metadata about natural history collections.
NCBI, GBIF, and CBOL hope that this online database of registered collection information will make it easier for researchers to exchange information on the specimens stored in biorepositories.Top
What is the new structured format for voucher specimen data?
The structured datafield that GenBank, EMBL and DDBJ will use for voucher specimens has three parts, separated by colons (:)
Institutional acronym : Collection code : Catalog number such us UAM:Mamm:86887M
These three data elements, used in conjunction, should be a pointer to a unique specimen in the catalog database of a biorepository. It is not designed to point to a derivative part of a specimen (e.g., frozen tissue sample, DNA extract) because the voucher specimen is the source of the nucleotide sequence stored in GenBank.Top
How is this related to LSIDs?
The Life Science Identifiers (LSIDs) are another system for uniquely identifying a biological object. An LSID standard was recently approved by the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG, formerly the Taxonomic Database Working Group). LSIDs enable the construction of LSID resolvers that can answer database queries.
The Darwin Core triplet (Institutional acronym : Collection code : Catalog number) can be incorporated into an LSID query and should produce the same result.Top
What should I do if I find that there is another institution with the same acronym as my institution in the database?
Please send a message to Biorepositories@si.edu or use the Contact Us feature.Top
What should I do if my institution uses several different acronyms for different collections?
Some institutions use more than one institutional acronym, for historical reasons. For example, the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution uses the institutional acronym 'USNM' for some of its collections and 'NMNH' for others. Simply register both institutional acronyms and then register the associated collections under each acronym.
Please note that even though an institution can use several acronyms, each collection must be registered under only one acronym. For example, insects are a collection under the acronym USNM, but the ?? collection uses the acronym NMNH.Top
My institution has used several different acronyms in the past but we only use one now. I can register the active acronym but what should I do about the old ones?
Please register the current acronym and in the Notes area, include a list of acronyms that have been used for this institution in the past. You can also send a message with this information to Biorepositories@si.edu (or use the Contact Us feature on the website). We will change the status of your current acronym to 'Confirmed' and the status of the old acronyms to 'Discontinued', with a note directing people to the active acronym.Top
My institution has absorbed 'orphaned' collections from other institutions. Under which acronym should these collections be registered?
If the collection now belongs to your institution (as opposed to being a long-term loan), then the collection should be registered under your institutional acronym. However, you may want to use the old institutional acronym as part of its collection code. For example, your bird collection might have the collection code 'ORN' under the institutional acronym 'MyInst'. A collection of birds you absorbed could be 'OldInstBirds' under the acronym 'MyInst', which could provide better access to their original records. If they are to be catalogued under 'ORN', then the two specimen numbering systems must be distinct and non-redundant.Top
What about specimens in personal research collections?
Individual researchers and private collectors are also encouraged to register their collections. This will allow others to locate these specimens if they are needed and will make it easier to track them if and when they are accessioned into a museum or other institutional collection.
Collections held by individuals will all be labeled with the shared institutional acronym 'personal' and the collection code registered on this website. Individual researchers and private collectors should select "Non-Institutional Collections" to register their collections.
On This Page
- Why should I register my institution and collections?
- Where did this list of institutional acronyms come from?
- Who will use the data?
- What is the new structured format for voucher specimen data?
- How is this related to LSIDs?
- What should I do if I find that there is another institution with the same acronym as my institution in the database?
- What should I do if my institution uses several different acronyms for different collections?
- My institution has used several different acronyms in the past but we only use one now. I can register the active acronym but what should I do about the old ones?
- My institution has absorbed 'orphaned' collections from other institutions. Under which acronym should these collections be registered?
- What about specimens in personal research collections?
- 6,698 Total Institutional Records
- 3,463 Confirmed Institutional Records
- 16 Confirmed Non-Institutional Records
- 467 Confirmed Collections