Two main data exchange standards predominate within the context of natural history collections: the Darwin Core standard (), originally developed for the exchange of biodiversity data, and the Access to Biological Collection Data schema (; optionally Extended For Geosciences, ABCDEFG) for the exchange of specimen data of natural history collections. The development of both standards started around the turn of the millennium, and both have been approved by the Biodiversity Information Standards association (formerly known as the Taxonomic Databases Working Group, ), in the meantime and are used by international facilities such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility () and the Geoscience Collection Access Service ().
SwissCollNet is actually working on a data model together with InfoSpecies and the Swiss node of GBIF. Grantees of projects financed by SwissCollNet are obliged to follow DwC and/or ABCD EFG standards.
Data access - the FAIR data principles
SwissCollNet will adhere to the as best as possible, to be of maximum benefit to research and society. FAIR data principles are findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability. They are written in a very general form to allow for maximum applicability.
Recommendations for data management
The handbook is one of SwissCollNet’s first measures to advance the exchange of knowledge on object and data management among Swiss collections. It contains instructions to modernize natural history collections of preserved biological materials and geological samples developed by experts and collections managers from across Swiss collection holding institutions. Chapter four is dedicated to data management, including recommendations for databasing, digitization and data storage.
Information and recommendations are given about:
- identification of objects and data,
- data standards for the exchange of collection data,
- data vocabularies,
- collection management systems (CMS),
- data storage and preservation
- metadata levels