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The Power of Data Standards

Author(s): Michaeleen Gerken Golay1, Darlene Panvini2, Molly Phillips3, Heather Susanne Zimbler-DeLorenzo4

1. Wartburg College 2. Belmont University 3. iDigBio, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida 4. Alfred University

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Investigate data standards within the context of the Alpine Chipmunk and the Grinnell Study.


Recent efforts to digitize museum collections mean the specimens collected years ago can be accessed by researchers around the world. This means we can look at changes in morphology, range distribution, or habitat affinity over time. However, in order for these data to be useful for analyzing change over time, there needs to be some consistency in the way they are collected and reported. In the following activities, we will demonstrate the importance of data standardization.

Upon completion of this module, each student should be able to:

  • Explain why standardizing descriptions and organization of data are important.
  • Explain problems or limitations of using data when not standardized or organized.
  • Strategize about the best ways to organize data to answer a question.
  • Apply their knowledge of data quality standards when collecting/creating their own data.


This is a product of the Fall 2019 BLUE Faculty Mentoring Network

Here is a video presentation from SPNHC 2020:

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