Easy access to legacy data collected over hundreds-of-years of exploration of nature from the convenience of people's own computers for anyone all over the world? It may sound futuristic but a brand new pilot showcases how this is possible here and now.
The new workflow demonstrates a re-publication of a volume of Flora Malesiana in a semantically enriched HTML edition available on the newly launched, Advanced Books publishing platform. The platform was demonstrated today at the EU funded pro-iBiosphere project which supported, in part, the re-publication of Flora Malesiana.
When Linnaeus was laying the foundations of taxonomy as a science in his Species Plantarum and Systema Naturae books he probably did not imagine that his methods of publication of natural history data would remain almost unchanged for more than 270 years! The bulk of the information on the living World is still closed in paper-based legacy literature, especially in fundamental regional treatises such as Flora, Fauna and Mycota series, hardly accessible for readers, despite the dramatic changes in the publishing technologies that have taken place over the last decade.
The new pilot, developed by Pensoft Publishers in a cooperation with the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Plazi, and Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM), demonstrates how a fundamental book in natural history can start a new life with Advanced Books. Re-publication of the Flora of Northumberland & Durham, published in 1838, will be the next to appear as a result of a collaboration between the Botanical Garden Meise National Botanic Garden of Belgium and Pensoft.
Flora Malesiana is a systematic account of the flora of Malesia, the plant-geographical unit spanning six countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. The plant treatments are not published in a systematic order but as they come about by the scientific efforts of some 100 collaborators all over the world.
With the new platform, such scientifically important historical monographs, enriched with additional information from up-to-date external sources related to organisms' names, species treatments, information on their ecology, distribution and conservation value, morphological characters, etc., become freely usable for anyone at any place in the world.
The re-publication in advanced open access comes with the many other benefits of the digitization and markup efforts such as data extraction and collation, distribution and re-use of content, archiving of different data elements in relevant repositories and so on.
"Advanced Books will bring many outstanding scientific monographs to a new life, however the platform is not only restricted to e-publish our legacy literature." commented Prof. Lyubomir Penev, Managing Director of Pensoft. "New books are mostly welcome on the platform, joining their historical predecessors in an open, common, human- and machine-readable, data space for the benefit of future researchers and the society in general" concluded Prof. Penev.
de Wilde W (2014) Flora Malesiana. Series I - Seed Plants, Volume 14. Myristicaceae. Advanced Books: e1141. doi: 10.3897/ab.e1141
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