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A methodology for composing well-defined character descriptions.

Paterson, Trevor; Cannon, Alan; Raguenaud, Cedric; Russell, Gordon; Armstrong, Kate E; MacDonald, Sarah M; Pullan, Martin R; Watson, Mark F; Kennedy, Jessie


Trevor Paterson

Cedric Raguenaud

Kate E Armstrong

Sarah M MacDonald

Martin R Pullan

Mark F Watson


Taxonomy has been described as “the science of documenting biodiversity”, which involves collecting, naming, describing, identifying and classifying specimens of organisms (Keogh, 1995). Descriptions are the fundamental information units used in the process of constructing classifications and communicating taxonomic concepts. The quality of stored description data is limited by the lack of a formal model and methodology for composing specimen descriptions, and by the absence of an agreed defined terminology. This impedes the communication, interpretation and reuse of original descriptions. This paper describes a novel approach to composing and recording taxonomic descriptions of botanical specimens. An underlying model for creating character descriptions is presented together with a process for creating an ontology of defined terms, which will be used to compose these description elements. It is hoped that these developments will facilitate the unambiguous interpretation of descriptions and enhance the taxonomic process.


Paterson, T., Cannon, A., Raguenaud, C., Russell, G., Armstrong, K. E., MacDonald, S. M., …Kennedy, J. (2003). A methodology for composing well-defined character descriptions

Report Type Technical Report
Publication Date 2003
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2009
Publicly Available Date Oct 28, 2009
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Biology; Characterisation; Taxonomy; Description; Database; Computer Model; Ontology;
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