Unlocking palaeontology data

(L-R): Paleontology researchers James Moore, Gavin Prideaux and Grant Gully are helping to set up a paleontology database.
(L-R): Palaeontology researchers James Moore, Gavin Prideaux and Grant Gully are helping to set up a palaeontology database.

Decades of fossil-related data collected by Flinders University palaeontology researchers will soon be available for open access thanks to a new collaboration between Flinders Palaeontology Laboratory and eResearch@Flinders.

Funded by the Australian National Data Service, the project will assess, describe and aggregate datasets that are currently in many different formats and locations, enabling easier access to information, data analysis and reuse.

“The data has been collected over more than four decades,” Associate Professor Gavin Prideaux, the Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Palaeontology, says.

“It covers a very significant range of fossil specimens of vertebrates and will make a terrific contribution to the body of palaeontological data that is already available,” he says.

eResearch@Flinders Manager Amanda Nixon says the depository of vertebrate fossil data will include contributions not only from Flinders, but from researchers within the region explored.

“Storing, organising and making the data available in this way will reduce the risk of loss or damage to fossil specimens on loan, create opportunities for collaboration through discoverability and remove the risk of losing important historical datasets,” Ms Nixon says.

“At the same time, it will support scientific publications and hopefully further encourage interest in palaeontology in the wider community.”

Building on previous Australian National Data Service funded projects, Ms Nixon says the work will highlight the benefits of open access to research data.

For more information about the project or to make research data available for open access, contact eResearch@Flinders Manager Amanda Nixon 08 8201 5217.

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