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A crowdsourcing approach to the design of Virtual Research Environments A Case study of the collaborative work edition of the Brazilian Flora checklist

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Email Print Request Permissions A Species List of Flora is a working list of scientific descriptions of all known plants occurring within a given region. It represents an inventory in process, i.e., updates and new plant species are added every working day. The Flora checklist has an important value for the scientific community, government, industry and society, since it gathers accurate data on flora diversity. Knowing the Brazilian flora has been a commitment assumed by Brazil towards the international community. In 2009, the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, in a joint action with several research institutions, started the development of a Virtual Research Environment based on crowdsourcing. The aim of the project was to support the collaborative and distributed work of an undefined number of pre-qualified trained taxonomists, grouped in their specialties. This article describes the technological aspects related to the ongoing work on the List of Species of the Brazilian Flora, which is a recent example of success in building a knowledge database collaboratively. It describes the mechanisms used for determining individual characteristics of potential participants (target audience), the means of collaboration and communication, as well as the technological platform developed to support a web-based crowdsourcing design for Virtual Research Environment. Some information on both the performance of the team of about 600 researchers and the quality of information produced are presented, also including some of the lessons learned and recommendations for future action.
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