Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections

WeDigBio Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about WeDigBio. Feel free to submit your own here: link


What is WeDigBio?

Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, or WeDigBio, is a 4-day event that engages participants online and onsite in digitizing natural history collections.

Onsite events are hosted by museums, herbaria, universities, and other institutions and enable face to face meetups where participants engage with local collections.

Online events engage volunteers from around the world, facilitating the transcribing of specimen information from images hosted by transcription platforms, no matter where in the world the volunteers may be.

Who is WeDigBio?

WeDigBio was initiated by a group of institutions with an interest in public engagement in digitizing collections at a meeting hosted by iDigBio in 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. That group included the Australian Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Florida State University, University of Florida, iDigBio, and Les Herbonautes.

The transcription platforms involved and their affiliate institutions:
Notes from Nature - University of Florida, Florida State University, Zooniverse
DigiVol - Australian Museum and Atlas of Living Australia
Smithsonian Transcription Center - Smithsonian Institution
Les Herbonautes - Paris Herbarium
Symbiota - South East Regional Network of Expertise in Collections (SERNEC)

Why is the transcription of specimen data important?

Transcription involves the conversion of written and typed labels into digital form. It enables the data to be publicly accessed via computers and the internet. Transcription is the key to unlocking the data of historical collections - information critical to research questions today and in the future. Thousands of label transcriptions from this four-day event enhance the span of biodiversity research and knowledge across time, taxa, and geographies.

Numerous organizations and institutions share a mission to liberate museum specimen data. Individually, these organizations are working on various aspects of digitizing museum specimens and are now excited to involve the public, as citizen scientists, in expanding digitization activities on a global scale.

Who can participate?

Anyone who is interested in volunteering to help advance scientific research by transcribing the labels of museum specimens. Successful events have engaged students as young as 11 years old.

What is a transcription platform?

A transcription platform is an online software interface that volunteers use to provide the who, what, when, where, etc., for biodiversity specimens shown in digital images.

How can I get involved?

If you are a biocollection curator, host an event during the 4-day 2016 event (October 20–23). Register your event by following the link on the homepage so that we can provide updates to you.

If you are a teacher, dedicate a class period to WeDigBio activities during the 2016 event. Use the lesson plans at or create your own and share it at the site. Register your event by following the link on the homepage so that we can provide updates to you.

If you are a citizen scientist, make some time during the 2016 event to transcribe some specimen labels online at one of the participating platforms either at your local participating biocollection or from a location of your choosing. And join the social media buzz surrounding the event.

Do I need to log in?

Nope! No need to log in to If you are interested in participating in a project online, find one in the Get Involved menu. The WeDigBio website is simply a directory that lists the possible activities for you. You may, however, be required to log in to the transcription platform with which you choose to engage.

Can I find projects at an institution close to me?

All WeDigBio events are listed on the Find an Event page.

What is "citizen science"?

Citizen science refers to public participation in scientific research. Synonyms include volunteer science, “crowdsourced” science, civic science, community-based research, among other terms. At its core, citizen science encompasses scientific activities conducted by nonprofessional scientists. Anyone can become a citizen scientist, and WeDigBio encourages you to discover your inner scientist by participating in a transcription event near you! As a WeDigBio citizen scientist, you will be helping to make digital data from thousands of specimens available to biodiversity researchers, educators, policy-makers, natural resource managers, conservation biologists, and others around the world. Your involvement is critical to these efforts—participate in WeDigBio and bring a friend!

How can I contact someone at WeDigBio?

For more information about WeDigBio, contact


WeDigBio is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program (Cooperative Agreement EF-1115210). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.