[tdwg-content] What is dwc:basisOfRecord for?

Steve Baskauf steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu
Tue Oct 26 07:34:00 CEST 2010

OK, I know that this sounds like a stupid question, but I really want 
somebody who was involved in the development and maintenance of the 
current DwC standard to tell me how the term dwc:basisOfRecord is 
supposed to be used (not what it IS - I've seen the definition at 
http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/index.htm#basisOfRecord)?  I would like for 
the answer of this question to be separated from the issue of what the 
Darwin Core type vocabulary 
(http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/type-vocabulary/index.htm) is for. 

I re-read the lengthy thread starting with 
which talked a lot about basisOfRecord and its relationship to other 
ways of typing things.  I don't want to re-plough that ground again, but 
I couldn't find the post that stated what the final decision was. I 
remember that there was a decision to NOT create the recordClass term 
which was the subject of much discussion. 

I guess my confusion at this point is with the inclusion of both 
"Occurrence" and "PreservedSpecimen" in the same list.  Let's say that I 
have a flat database where I include metadata about the Occurrence (such 
as dwc:recordedBy) and the specimen (such as dwc:preparations) in the 
same line.  What is the basisOfRecord for that line?  I would guess that 
the "basis of the record" was the specimen.  But the line in the record 
also represents an Occurrence.  It seems like there is a lack of clarity 
as to whether basisOfRecord is supposed to indicate the type of the 
record (which would be an Occurrence record) or whether it's supposed to 
indicate the kind of evidence on which the record is based (which would 
be PreservedSpecimen).  There have been various times where I've seen a 
database record that includes basisOfRecord and it seems to be 
inconsistently applied. 

I can see how the Darwin Core type vocabulary could be useful - it 
pretty much lays out useful values that one could give for rdfs:type.  
But basisOfRecord as a term is confusing me.


Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences

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