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Whitby Naturalists' Club Guide to Submitting Digitized Records

Introduction

This document provides brief advice about how to prepare digitized records of observations of different animals, fungi, micro-organisms and plants and submit them to the Club’s Recorders. To do this using the method described here, you will need a computer running on some version of Microsoft Windows, you will also need to have MS-Excel spreadsheet software installed, and you will need access to the Internet. If you do not have such resources, please contact one of the Club's Recorders.

Records are prepared for the Club by filling in an MS-Excel spreadsheet with the necessary information. You can download an empty template spreadsheet suitable for this use, and a spreadsheet containing worked examples from this website.

After you have downloaded this template, please rename the downloaded file. Make its name from your own surname and the date in the style of the following example: “john_smith_2013_february_15.xls”. When the file has been re-named, open your MS-Excel software and load the new file. You are then ready to start keyboarding your information. Put in as much information about each observation as you can - the more information you supply, the better the record, but don't worry if some bits of information are missing: an imperfect record is better than none at all.

You can use the same file for records made on different occasions. You don't have to enter records in the order you have seen them (you can type in old records after typing in recent ones), and it's not necessary to have different files for different groups of organisms (all of your records, of animals, fungi, micro-organisms and plants, can all be put in the same file. You will see that there are various categories of information you need to fill in. Each category will now be described.

Date

Day. Type the number of the day.
Month. Type the number of the month.
Year. Type the number of the year.

Location

Site. If your records are from Whitby and its immediate surroundings, you do not need to type “UK” or “North Yorkshire”. These will be added automatically. Describe the site from the largest and most obvious character to the smallest and least obvious, and separate different components with a semi-colon. Thus, for example, “Whitby; Flowergate” not “Flowergate; Whitby”. Put qualifying information about any location after its name, separated by a comma. Thus, for example, “Whitby; Whalebone Arch, 20m to south” not “20m to south of the Whalebone Arch; Whitby”. If you want to describe a site as being between two points, do it like this “Littlebeck Woods; between Midge Hall and May Beck car park”.
Grid ref. Type in the Ordnance Survey code letters for the 100km square followed by a six or eight figure reference (eastings first, northings second).
Altitude. Type the number of metres above sea level.
Habitat. Free text: describe the habitat in your own words.
Code. Use the phase 1 habitat codes as recommended by the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Observer/collector

Name. The name of the person. Please put surname first, followed by a comma, a space, then each initial with a full stop (example: “Smith, J.”). Done this way, it is easier to sort records made by the same person. Imagine sorting “Bill Clinton” and “W.J. Clinton” in alphabetical order - having the given name(s) first tends to separate records from the same person. If there is more than one person, separate individuals by a semi-colon and a space (example: Smith, J.; Watkins, E.F.).
Number. If the observer/collector allocates their own number to each observation/collection, this is the place to put it.

Organism 1

Latin name. Put the name of the organism you observed here. Latin names are preferred, particularly for anything which doesn’t have fur or feathers, but not obligatory.
Name of identifier. The name of the person who identified the first organism. Same rules apply as for observer/collector.
Notes. Free text to add any comments you wish about the first organism. Examples: “three flying southwards”, “rare”, “2 female and 8 males”, “dead, killed on road” etc.

Substratum

Substratum. This is a description of what the organism was on. What it was on, and what it feeds on may be two different things: this category is for what it was on. Was the insect on a leaf? Is the plant on acid soil? This category is free text, but it’s good style to put the noun first, in the singular, followed by any qualifying information with a comma and space as a separator. Thus, “leaf, dead, fallen” not “dead fallen leaves”.

Organism 2

Latin name. Put the name of the organism you observed here. Latin names are again preferred, particularly for anything which doesn’t have fur or feathers, but not obligatory. Making provision for recording a second organism means it’s possible to make an association between the insect (organism 1) on the leaf (substratum) of the tree (organism 2). By making such associations, the information you generate is much more valuable.
Name of identifier. The name of the person who identified the second organism. Same rules apply as for observer/collector.
Notes. Free text to add any comments you wish about the second organism. Examples: “three flying southwards”, “rare”, “2 female and 8 males”, “dead, killed on road” etc.

Admin.

Specimen kept. If you have kept a specimen, for example of a plant in a herbarium, put information about this specimen here.
Other notes. This is a glory hole of free text for any other information you want to record in association with the observation.

Minimum information for a valid record

Please fill in as many columns as possible. In many, perhaps most cases, you will not be able to fill in all columns. There is, however, a minimum amount of information needed for a record to be meaningfull. Records which have date / location information, but mention no organism will be removed by the editors. Similarly records with have organism information but no date or place will also be removed.

Submitting records

After you have finished keyboarding your observations, save the file. The first time you enter records, it is a good idea only to enter a few, for examply about fifty records, and then send those to the Club, so that if there are any problems, not a lot of your time is lost. Later, with experience, you may find it convenient to accumulate hundreds of records in one file, so that it is only necessary to send the recorders one file each year. Send the file as an e-mail attachment to the following address: .