The Specify Collections Consortium

The Specify Collections Consortium (SCC), founded in 2018, is a collaborative, open-source software community of engaged collection institutions with a vision to advance research and education uses of biological specimen and sample information. A Board of Directors, along with Research and Technology Advisory Committees drawn from member institutions, govern the Consortium and determine its software and technical service priorities. The Consortium advances the interests of its members through engineering, deployment, and support of software technologies that facilitate the creation, curation, discovery, and scientific utilization of the information and knowledge associated with biological collections.

The SCC informs member museum long-term strategies with biodiversity data processing including responding to the macrotrends affecting the collections community, such as economic pressure for collections consolidation, network security, national and international data aggregation, the move to cloud-based architectures, the need to computationally integrate collection curation and research, and opportunities for enhancing interoperability with broader science computing initiatives.

Building on 30-years of software and technical support for digitization and curatorial data processing, the Consortium will develop a focus on innovating analytical and additional integration capabilities into collections computing. For example, the SCC will develop analytical tools for quantitative analysis of collection holdings, in order to identify a collection’s informational strengths in several environmental areas, including phylogenetic, geographic, climatic, and temporal dimensions.  Future participation in Digital Object Model architectures promises to enhance data integration, interoperability, and collaborative data processing on a global scale.

The SCC collaborates with member institution technical staff to evolve computing strategies with research and deployment of new integrations, standards, and internet technologies. For smaller collections institutions, this SCC technology support can wholly eliminate the need for local IT staff through hosting, with updated, secure, database management in cloud-based services.  Larger institutions and national initiatives will engage with Consortium engineers to co-design larger, information management architectures and platforms and to contribute components to the Consortium’s open source software repositories for the benefit of all Specify collections.  With the Consortium acting as an extension of institutional IT, museums have no need to carry the daunting and recurring costs of software engineering to meet core research data processing requirements and to keep up with evolving global architectures.

Consortium Membership Levels and Benefits

Founding Partner – $40,000/year/Institution (all institution collections)

For museums and consortia of vision who see the strategic and long-term research value of their collections and for guiding the future of collections informatics, Founding Members assume a stand-up, leadership role in Consortium governance and operations. As research collections community leaders with a seat on the governing board, Founding Members will engage their vision and grow the informatics future of the biological collections community.

With insight, commitment, and leadership, Founding Members leverage their collection informatics investment to positively impact hundreds of smaller yet significant collections around the world that contribute specimens and data to the collective knowledge of earth’s biological diversity.

Founding Member status ensures immediate access to Consortium technical staff, and a complete suite of technical support services for all the institution’s collection databases. Your institutional IT staff will benefit from direct access to Specify engineers for problem resolution, joint code development, proposal and project planning. Consortium intellectual and technical resources will ensure that your collection digitization initiatives are achievable, effective, and successful. For large institutions with multiple collections, investment in a Founding Membership realizes considerable cost savings over the expense of commercial software licenses, or the salaries of in-house programmers. Institutional benefits of Founding Memberships include:

  • Two permanent seats on the Consortium Board of Members, one permanent seat on each Consortium standing committees: Science and Technology.
  • Priority access to all technical support services, including Consortium shared hosting, direct unlimited access to Consortium help desk and engineering staff, including remote login sessions, for an unlimited number of collections.
  • Collaborative proposal and project development planning for software innovation, collection data analysis, integration, or digitization initiatives.
  • Preferred and priority access to all new software products and releases, including BETA testing, opportunity to contribute code and capabilities to Consortium software projects.
  • Two paid seats at the annual Specify Research Summit.

Full Member – $5,000/year/collection

For biological collections that prefer to be proactively engaged in shaping the priorities and technology directions of the Consortium, Full Membership offers a leadership opportunity. You will be at the table to participate in the critical discussions that will determine the cyberinfrastructure support capabilities for your collection, as well as more generally impact the direction of biological collections computing, worldwide.

  • Your IT staff will benefit from direct access to Consortium engineers for assistance and project development, extending the influence and reach of your own bioinformatics activities by leveraging the technical activities of the Consortium. Your collections researchers and IT staff will receive comprehensive software support, at considerable savings relative to the costs of commercial software licenses, or maintaining bespoke in-house software. Specific benefits for Full Members include:
  • Access to a rotating seat on the Consortium Board of Members, priority for one seat on either of the Consortium’s Science and Technology Advisory Committees.
  • Priority access to consortium technical support services, including direct access to Consortium help desk, for one collection, and access to engineering staff for remote login sessions. This includes advanced support for User Interface changes, field mapping, label and report creation and database setup as necessary during data conversion projects.
  • Collaborative proposal writing and new project planning.
  • Preferred access to all new software products and releases, opportunity to contribute code and capabilities to Consortium software projects.
  • One paid seat at the annual Specify Research Summit.

Solutions Member – $1,250 – $3,000/year/collection

For collections that want to utilize Consortium’s setup services in the first year to migrate legacy collection data into the Consortium data model and software, and those that require additional technical services for conversion, or for maintenance of their data in the Consortium’s database hosting service. When joining as a Solutions Member, we will work with you to define your collection’s digitization workflows and configure software to fit them. Benefits include:

  • Access to rotating seats on Consortium Science and Technology standing committees (Science, Technology).
  • Access to the suite of Consortium extended technical support services, which may include software platform customization, installation, mapping and migrating legacy data into the consortium data model and eligibility for Consortium data shared hosting and On-Site Consulting and Training.
  • Technical advice for proposal development and new project planning.
  • Timely access to all Consortium software tools and updates.
  • A paid seat at the annual Specify Research Summit.

Associate Member – $1,000/year/collection

For institutions that want to continue to advance their collection data management and mobilization of collection information for scientific use, Associate Membership offer comprehensive support and opportunities for collaboration. Collections that are Associate Members get the comprehensive core software and technical support benefits of the Consortium, including:

  • Access to rotating seats on Consortium standing committees (Science, Technology).
  • Full access to the Specify forum, help documents and videos, and answers to incidental technical support questions.
  • Technical advice for funding proposal and project development.
  • Access to all Consortium software tools and updates.
  • A paid seat at the annual Specify Research Summit.

Membership Commitment

Members of the Specify Collections Consortium sustain the software, maintenance, and support services of the Specify Software Project. A commitment to join the consortium ensures continuous access to all technical support services. Please contact us at to join us!