Source:e-Biosphere Conference London, UK June 2009 (2009)
Taxonomists have been slow to adopt the web as a medium for building research communities. Yet, web-based communities hold great potential for accelerating the pace of taxonomic research. We have developed an intuitive web application (Scratchpads) that enables researchers to build, share, manage and publish their data online. Our architecture is based on the Drupal content management system and provides a scalable, flexible resource that allows distributed communities of taxonomists to collaborate. Sites are hosted at the Natural History Museum London, and offered free to any scientist that completes an online registration form. Information supported by the Scratchpads includes bibliographies, image galleries, specimen records, documents, custom data sets and maps. Data are classified and aggregated around a taxonomy supplied by the user. This is supplemented with information from high quality web accessible databases (currently Genbank, GBIF, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Yahoo! Images and Google Scholar) to automatically construct rich web
pages about any taxon documented within a site. In the twenty months of operation the Scratchpads have attracted 950 registered users from more than 40 countries, across 85 separate sites. Collectively these
users have produced more than 130,000 web pages, and attract an average of 6,000 visits with 50,000 page views per month. Ongoing work is linking the Scratchpads to the Encyclopedia of Life project, and the EDIT Cybertaxonomy platform. The template of our architecture may serve as a model to other research communities outside biological taxonomic research. Further details from http://scratchpads.eu.
Poster for the e-Biosphere '09 conference 91-3 June 2009).