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BigDig 2017 : High Throughput Digitization for Natural History Collections


When Oct 24, 2017 - Oct 24, 2017
Where Auckland, New Zealand
Submission Deadline Jul 14, 2017
Notification Due Aug 11, 2017
Final Version Due Aug 25, 2017
Categories    digital preservation   3d data acquisition   computer vision   automation technology

Call For Papers

Call for Papers
BigDig 2017: High Throughput Digitization for Natural History Collections
Auckland, New Zealand
24 October 2017

There is a wealth of untapped potential captured in the animal and plant collections held by museums of natural history around the world. Novel discovery processes will be catalyzed by the existence of large, curated, inter-comparable digital collections of specimen data. However, it has been noted that current methods may not be able to digitize the existing backlog of an estimated ~1.5 billion specimens, distributed across 1000+ collections, in the next 30 years or more. Obtaining information on labels of 500 million entomological specimens is particularly challenging. It may even be impossible to keep up with the rate of expansion of these collections as new specimens are added. Despite successful ongoing efforts, more needs to be done in terms of technology development across the ingest pipeline in order to meet this daunting challenge. Therefore, it is important and timely that a workshop of practitioners continues to expand upon discussion of how to advance the technology of high-throughput specimen digitization and ingest to match the requirements of this complex but ultimately richly rewarding problem.

The BigDig workshop will focus on high-throughput digitization, driven by the keen need to move the world’s physical collections into the digital realm where they are safer from the ravages of time, can be used by larger numbers of scientists and the public, and can contribute in new ways to the study of biodiversity. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

* Digitization technologies for high-throughput 2D and 3D capture of collection objects
* Instrumentation strategies and algorithms
* Specimen handling, label information capture, OCR, crowd-sourced label transcription, 3D reconstruction
* Digitization requirements, metadata, image and 3D fidelity, time and resource constraints, speed
* Workflows for high-throughput digitization of natural history collections
* Data management for large and perhaps distributed digital collections of such data
* Interface requirements, issues, and solutions both for scientific research and for public outreach to extremely large virtual collections
* Applications of the resulting data resource to potentially new science and approaches as evidenced by theoretical models, case studies, parallels with existing similar data resources

Authors are invited to submit unpublished, original work, using the IEEE 8.5 x 11 manuscript guidelines: double-column text using single-spaced 10-point font on 8.5 x 11 inch pages. Templates are available from

The proceedings of this workshop will be included in the eScience 2017 proceedings to be published by the IEEE Computer Society Press, USA and made available online through the IEEE Digital Library.

We will be accepting submissions for:

* Full research papers for oral presentation (up to 10 pages) will focus on new research achievements in high throughput digitization methods, technologies, and applications.
* Experience papers for oral presentation (up to 10 pages) will focus on practical outcomes of applying high throughput digitization to existing collections.
* Poster submissions may focus on early stage results with the aim of fostering exchange of ideas and professional networking (up to 2 pages). IMPORTANT NOTE: Posters will be submitted directly to the eScience conference:

Authors of papers (not posters) should submit a PDF to It is a requirement that at least one author of each accepted paper attend the conference.

Deadline for submission / Important Dates (midnight anywhere on Earth):

* Submission Due: Friday, 14 July 2017 NEW
* Notification of Acceptance: Wednesday, 11 August 2017 NEW
* Camera Ready Due: Friday, 25 August 2017 NEW

Held in connection with eScience 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Workshop date: 24 October 2017

Workshop Organizers:

Mark Hereld, Argonne National Laboratory (Chair)
Petra Sierwald, The Field Museum of Natural History
Nicola Ferrier, Argonne National Laboratory

Program Committee:

Jason Best, Botanical Research Institute of Texas
David C. Blackburn, Florida Museum of Natural History
Vladimir Blagoderov, Natural History Museum London
Neil S. Cobb, Northern Arizona University
Ollie Cossairt, Northwestern University
Chris Dietrich, Illinois Natural History Survey
Nicole Fisher, Australian National Insect Collection
Aditi Majumder, University of California at Irvine
Gil Nelson, Florida State University
Peter T. Oboyski, Essig Museum of Entomology
Deborah Paul, Florida State University
Hannu Saarenmaa, University of Eastern Finland
Bernhard Schurian, Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin

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