Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections

Frequently Asked Questions


What is WeDigBio?

Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, or WeDigBio, is a global data campaign, virtual science festival, and local outreach opportunity, all rolled into one. The annual, 4-day WeDigBio event mobilizes participants to create digital data about biodiversity specimens, including fish in jars, plants on sheets, insects on pins, and fossils in drawers. Some participants are at onsite events hosted by museum, field stations, universities, science classrooms, or other organizations. Those onsite events provide opportunities for research talks or other interactions with those using the newly created data to benefit science and society. Other participants are distributed individually around the world. For those, we offer a virtual meeting space, which contains live feeds from some of the onsite events and provides another way to interact with scientists and others.

Who produces WeDigBio?

WeDigBio was initiated by a group with an interest in public engagement in digitizing biocollections during iDigBio's 2014 CitStitch Hackathon (Gainesville, Florida, USA). That group, including representatives from the Australian Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Florida State University, University of Florida, iDigBio, and Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, produced the first WeDigBio event in 2015. Today, the project is run by the board and working groups. Correspondence about WeDigBio is best directed to

What does it mean to digitize biocollections?

Digitizing involves the creation of digital data about physical specimens curated by biocollections (sometimes called biodiversity research collections or natural history collections). Without digital data, the value of the physical specimens is largely unrealized until someone opens a cabinet door and discovers the specimens. Creation of digital content about a specimen (e.g., database record, digital image, map point) permits the the specimen to become discoverable online and useful to scientists, conservation biologists, natural resource managers, educators, and others around the world. In aggregate, these digital data provide humanity with our historical baseline for studying global change in diversity and distribution today and in the future. Many of the WeDigBio activities involve transcription of specimen label data into database fields from digital images because it is a type of digitization that scales well online.

How can I get involved as a biocollection curator?

Host an event onsite at your biocollection during the WeDigBio events (one in April and one in October each year). Register your event with us by following the link on the homepage in the lead-up to the event so that we can provide updates to you, as well as tattoos and/or stickers to hand out to participants.

How can I get involved as a teacher?

Dedicate a class period or at-home work to WeDigBio activities. Use the lesson plans at or create your own and share it at the site. If you are assigning it, register your exercise as an event so that we can provide updates to you, as well as tattoos and/or stickers to hand out to students.

Who can participate as an onsite event host?

Event hosts have generally been curators at biocollections or instructors for science classes, and the events that they have hosted have been open to the public or limited to registered students, respectively. We would be pleased to discuss other models for WeDigBio events with you. Event hosts must simply be committed to providing a safe, authentic, engaging science experience to participants.

How can I get involved as a participant?

Make some time during WeDigBio to help digitize at one of the participating platforms either during a local onsite event or from a location and time of your choosing. Please note that is not a platform for digitizing biocollections. Instead, we provide links to participating online sites with the Find a Project page (under Get Involved in the menu). And don't forget to join the social media buzz surrounding the event!

How can I find projects at an institution close to me?

We are encouraging all event hosts to register their events at SciStarter.

Is this "citizen science"?

Yes! Though we don't use the phrase widely on this website, we think of this activity as citizen science (or one of the many synonyms, such as public participation in scientific research, volunteer science, crowdsourced science, civic science, community-based research, etc.). Whatever you want to call it, we are opening wide the doors of biocollections to engage as broad a group as possible in the science that is happening in them.

How can I contact someone at WeDigBio?

For more information about WeDigBio, contact


WeDigBio is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program (Cooperative Agreement EF-1115210). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.