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Tips for the digital representation of physical samples and collections

Just like digital research data, data on analogue research objects can be shared with the public.

Photo of drill cores (rock samples) in an archive.

© Stephen –

Physical samples and specimens play an important role in research. Some samples are destroyed during analysis or are not further preserved for other reasons. Other material, such as rock cores, plants and seeds, tissue samples, archaeological artefacts, photos, and other imaging material, are conserved and curated and can be continuously studied.

RDM für analogue objects

The RDA working group Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem, opens an external URL in a new window has been looking at how to best present, manage, and share information about such samples. The result, a compilation of helpful free online resources and links, has now been published under the title23 Things Physical Samples, opens an external URL in a new window.

The document covers typical RDM topics such as persistent identifiers (PIDs), metadata, citation, licenses, ownership, tools, and repositories. In addition, under item 22 there is an overview of groups that are already working intensively on metadata and PIDs for physical specimens.


Addink, Wouter, Damerow, Joan, Donaldson, Mary, Edrington, Clint, Islam, Sharif, Klump, Jens, Plomp, Esther, Ramdeen, Sarah, Simons, Natasha, & Wyborn, Lesley. (2022). 23 Things Physical Samples., opens an external URL in a new window


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