Friday, November 13, 2009

mx multi-entry key. a self review from a recent web publication

Recently we published an example of an MX generated multi-entry key as part of the publication and review Revision of the Oriental genera of Agathidinae (Hymenoptera, Braconidae) with an emphasis on Thailand and interactive keys to genera published in three different formats authored by Michael J. Sharkey, Dicky S. Yu, Simon van Noort, yours truly, and Lyubomir Penev. The revision was part of a series in ZooKeys reviewing multi-key creation practices, including some suggestions for publishers of open-access journals.

heres the key online.

The publication was good as a nice real world example. It highlighted some strong points in the system (multi-use matrices, auto linker to the Hymenoptera Anatomical Ontology, ability to import/export Nexus files, link to Morphbank images using Morphbank web services) and how we can expose these views as public (ie matrix view can be public [no-edit] or private [edit]). But more importantly it showed me a few things that could be done to improve it particularly in archiving the key version for future use:

1. We expose the nexus file for the key and a character list but need a format to contain all of the key annotations for export (including image and specimen data). We have character lists with image and specimen information attached for download---enough information to recreate the key. BUT best to do this how? SDD? or NeXML? or Other?

2. Also wouldn't it be grand to add a public comment section to the key itself? So while a user is working through the key they could add comments that would be archived for the key author.

3. Greater focus on images as primary language...continue to move further away from the words.

4. Encourage the use of tags. To show confidences and quality of characters.

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