Thursday, 1 December 2016

Where do recording schemes fit into the Biological Recording map?

Over the last couple of weeks various posts on the NFBR Facebook page have got me thinking about the way biological recording is going and whether this really fits with the roles of recording schemes. Where do the schemes fit in today's developing system? I put together a simplified flow diagram to try to tease out this issue (figure 1). In this structure, recording schemes start to look a bit misplaced - there are at least two other ways of doing at least some of what the schemes are doing: the automated system of iRecord and the LERCs, which I have classed as data compilers. The very disparate nature of recording schemes means that whilst some such as the HRS might be regarded as data compilers, others are simple data gathering exercises that still rely one another body to put their work into the public domain.
Simplified data flow chart (revised 02 December 2016)

As a follow-up, I have tried to look in detail at what the Hoverfly Recording Scheme does and how this fits into the data flow model? (Figure 2). What struck me about this analysis is the sheer volume of activities that are involved in running a recording scheme!


  1. Interesting as ever Roger. I'd put iRecord in a slightly different position - it makes data available to recording schemes and to local records centres, and doesn't pass it directly up to NBN (unless a given recording scheme asks for that to happen). There's a closer link between LERCs and local authorities + developers than the chart suggests. And there are 'feedback loops' within the diagram, e.g. individual recorders, recording schemes and LERCs are all data users, as well as the govt and academic bodies you include. But I realise that this is a simplified view! And it's good to see the processes laid out like this.

    There certainly are a lot of roles that recording schemes can and do play. I'm not sure that the recording schemes are misplaced, or that they are in any way being replaced by LERCs and iRecord. Lots of LERCs value having links with recording schemes (not least the sort of links the hoverfly scheme has made with its brilliant training workshops, some of which are done with LERC support), and iRecord is a tool that recording schemes can use to bring together records and recorders, with recorders being appreciative of the feedback they get from those schemes that are using iRecord; it's not trying to replace schemes in any way.

    Lots of scope for working together, even within the complex picture that your diagram shows.

    1. Clearly the model is highly simplified and yes I rather overlooked the link between LERCs and Local Authorities (and developers). I'll maybe revise it but was trying to avoid the creation of an 'Elliott Horrendogram'.

      This post was really prompted by some of the threads on NFBR, which have perhaps coloured my views!

      I'd always understood that iRecord was simply uploaded into the NBN and that schemes got access to it that way. If an alternative route is possible that would be better I think. In many ways I think the debate that this generates is useful because I obviously have misconceptions, then doubtless others do too and this may be why some don't engage.

  2. I agree with Martin on this. Over at BWARS we use iRecord as one (of several) ways of getting data into our scheme. We just find it a very convenient tool for many folks.

    We don't think that LERC's are replacing us either. Our key link is that LERC's will liaise with the planning and developer users and act as a conduit for our data to them

    1. I am certainly not saying that LERCs are replacing the schemes. Simply that there are now several ways of compiling data. We have found that LERC data is a bit variable and that there is little point providing feedback on dodgy data to many of them because the issues never get rectified (there are honourable exceptions that deal with issues in a matter on minutes!)