Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG


Group details

Secretariat Liaison: 
Stefanie Kethers
TAB Liaison: 
Paul Uhlir
IG Established

Physical samples are a basic element for reference, study, and experimentation in research.  Tests and analysis are conducted directly on samples, such as biological specimens, rock or mineral specimens, soil or sediment cores, plants and seeds, water quality samples, archaeological artefacts, or DNA and human tissue samples because they represent a wider population or a larger context. Other physical objects, such as maps or analogue images are also direct objects of study, and, if digitized, may become a source of digital data. There is an urgent need for better integrating these physical objects into the digital research data ecosystem, both in a global and in an interdisciplinary context to support search, retrieval, analysis, reuse, preservation and scientific reproducibility. This group aims to facilitate cross-domain exchange and convergence on key issues related to the digital representation of physical samples and collections, including but not limited to use of globally unique and persistent identifiers for samples to support unambiguous citation and linking of information in distributed data systems and with publications, metadata standards for documenting samples and collections and for landing pages, access policies, and best practices for sample and collection catalog, including a broad range of issues from interoperability to persistence.

Recent Activity

16 May 2019

Plenary 14: Call for Sessions, Collocated Events, Posters and Registration Now Open!

Taking place from 23-25 October 2019, the 14th RDA Plenary will take place in Dipoli, the nature-immersed building of Aalto University, Helsinki, in Finland, “one of the happiest countries in the world”, states Per Öster, CSC-IT Center For Science Director and Co-Chair of the P14 Programme Committee.


14 Mar 2019

Survey on digital management of physical samples and sample collections

The following is an invitation to participate in a survey identifying needs
related to the digital management of physical samples and sample
collections. This survey is being conducted by the IGSN 2040 team as part
of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
We are interested in a wide range of physical samples produced by various
disciplines, including but not limited to earth, environmental, life,
material sciences, archaeology, and medical.
We hope to engage researchers across disciplines, and across the globe to

24 Jan 2019

RDA P13 Session Accepted - Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG: First steps on the pathway towards Implementing a Transdisciplinary Data Infrastructure for Physical Samples

Dear group,
Congratulations! Your session application - Physical Samples and
Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG: First steps on the
pathway towards Implementing a Transdisciplinary Data Infrastructure for
Physical Samples - has been approved and will appear in the RDA Plenary
13 Programme.  Please consider this your official notification of
The detailed Plenary 13 programme will be published online by 11
February, 2019, and your scheduled session time will be published in the

22 Mar 2018

RDA P11Breakout session "Physical Samples & Collections"

March 22, 2018, 11:00 - 12:30, room A04

Please sign in here:

Agenda for breakout:

  1. Scope of IG & Priorities
  2. Report from RDA collocated event (March 20, 2018) “Where to next with persistent identifiers for physical samples?”
  3. Discussion of WGs
    • Scope
    • Approach
    • Roadmap
  4. Planning for RDA P12 & beyond

17 Nov 2017

venue in Berlin for RDA to work on samples description

Dear board members,
With my colleague, Cécile Pignol, we are
working in French laboratories on data bancarisation processes, in
particular at the level of samples. As data curators in
interdisciplinary laboratories collecting many field samples for
environnemental studies, we have been trying since 2 to 3 years to set
new methods for handling them in order to join the FAIR movement in
We would be pleased to meet you at Berlin, between the the
21st to the 23rd March 2018,

22 Sep 2017

Reference links from my presentation on DCAT to the Versioning group this morning

Here's the content of my slide from the meeting this morning in Montreal, which is just a set of links to the things that I showed you:
W3C Data eXchange Working Group
Also see RDA Data Citation work

21 Sep 2017

Presentation on standards for samples/sampling

Apologies for difficulties in getting the second part of my presentation displayed at the session this morning.
Here are the slides I intended to present:
Simon J D Cox
Research Scientist
Land and Water
E ***@***.*** T +61 3 9545 2365 M +61 403 302 672