A new pan-European Research Infrastructure

Our vision for DiSSCo is to unify European natural science collections, effectively transforming a dispersed and fragmented access model to an integrated data‐driven pan‐European research infrastructure

This research infrastructure is urgently needed to solve the current limitations for the use of the data and related expertise contained by the natural science collections.

Develop a new Research Infrastructure to unify access to information, and provide access to mass, linked, reliable and precise data for the natural world.

This would enable European natural science collections to operate as a versatile and integrated system of distributed nodes and unify access to information, provide new linked data associated with collections, and drive policy and process harmonisation.

  • Bringing scientific collections to the information age, investing in a linked open data approach;
  • Investing in balanced multi‐modal access to collections;
  • Improving researchers’ capacity to use collection information to tackle complex scientific challenges;
  • Supporting the interplay of social and cultural aspects of collection data;
  • Developing and implementing targeted joint research agendas;
  • Identifying collection data at European level and improving curation efficiency;
  • Building and supporting paths to industrial innovation;
  • Enhancing digital skills and competencies, tooling‐up researchers to navigate the big data domain;
  • Engaging with society, providing alternative ways of benefiting from the national investments to collections.
  • Research communities and individual researchers in Environmental/natural sciences (incl. taxonomists, ecologists, bio‐informaticians, conservationists, ethno‐botanists, geneticists, chemists);
  • Virtual Research Environments (VREs) users, providers and stakeholders;
  • Citizen scientists and naturalists and coordinators of citizen science projects in biodiversity;
  • Object/Data holders (partners to the project, external repositories, potential users of other domains);
  • Aggregators of taxonomic/biodiversity data (e.g. GBIF, EoL) and Indexing agents (e.g. CoL, IPNI, ZooBank);
  • Policy and decision‐makers in governmental and non‐governmental organisations;
  • Education organisations including vocational and academic teachers and students;
  • Industry stakeholders including service providers, industrial devices/technology producers;
  • European Research Infrastructures (incl. LifeWatch, ELIXIR, MIRRI, EPOS, and E‐RIHS)
  • The European Loans and Visits System fully automates discovery of collections across participating facilities as well as the entire process for requesting and managing loan and visits requests in a harmonised and structured way.

  • The DiSSCo Linked Data Portal provides access to the mobilised collection data in a semantically annotated and linked (across data classes) manner.

  • The Unified Curation & Annotation System transforms the way scientists interact and capture information from specimens, through cloud-based software solution, which enables collection-visiting scientists to capture data in a standardised way; building their personal online database and contributing, at the same time, to the DiSSCo central data store.

DiSSCo service classes

Physical and digital access

Develop and operate the required infrastructure to provide world leading data open access services. Couple the digital access programme with a comprehensive physical access to collections programme

Training, support & engagement

Coordinate formal and professional training activities through certified training providers. Enhance data skills and competencies of scientists tooling them up to effectively navigate the bio- and geo-diversity big data pool.

Joint Research Programming

Develop and run robust joint research programmes, enabling scientists to benefit from new research infrastructure to deliver data-driven scientific innovation

Policy harmonisation

Develop common policies and harmonisation of processes in alignment to national and international agreements

Dissco service deliverables

Unified access to collections

Access to collections is a centrepiece service for DiSSCo. Services will be provided for both physical and virtual modes of access. DiSSCo will support a transnational access programme and couple this with comprehensive virtual (digital) access service. DiSSCo will deliver an
information system which offers, to the fullest extent possible, consistent access for all authorised researchers not only to be able to access data from any collection, but also contribute to the curation and improvement of these data. A European Collections Data Portal will enable direct and open access to the integrated database.

Unified capacity development

A consistent pan-European approach to training will simplify accreditation of skills and enable appropriate mechanisms to be put in place for user access rights around DiSSCo data. The approach will also support the development of European collections personnel as a unified community of expertise and excellence.

Unified knowledge graph

The engineering of the DiSSCo knowledge graph will bring together digital information and assets from all participating institutions, with institutional management systems for collections, laboratories and other facilities remaining the persistent repository for these data, and will additionally include further digital knowledge derived from graphing these data objects and resolving identities between multiple institutions. The entire graph will be navigable as a set of interconnected rich data records.

Unified policy platform

DiSSCo will be developed based on a common comprehensive policy corpus agreed to be implemented across all DiSSCo facilities. These policies will be underpinned by (i) open access principles, including FAIR principles, (ii) clear incentive schemes for citation and attribution, and (iii) thematic prioritisation, for the digitisation of the distributed collections. Furthermore, these policies will extend to the development of joint research programming activities across all its members.

Unified community of expertise

DiSSCo will facilitate collaborative research by enabling consistent pan-European digital access and data curation rights for research and curatorial and technical staff from all collections. DiSSCo will also create an integrated registry of experts with expertise linked to European collections.

Unified web services

The DiSSCo unified knowledge graph will be accessible via search, visualisation and download services to support efficient researcher access to data. DiSSCo will ensure that the resulting linked open data (LOD) is fully accessible for exploration, mining and semantic inference within European high-performance computing infrastructures, and fit for use by other European infrastructures (e.g. LifeWatch) and contributing to global infrastructures (e.g. GBIF).

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  • 0Participating organisations
  • 0Million specimens
  • 0Full time scientists