Thursday 30 June 2011

The organisational structure and the endorsement process - if you're an IPT administrator

During the Expert Workshop last week in Copenhagen, we had a session talking about configuring IPT to reflect different organisational structures. I think it's worth to explain about that part as a blog post here, since some of our readers would like to help deploy IPT in the GBIF Network. It's usually started by questions like this:

Why am I asked for a password of the organisation that I choose to register IPT? Why am I asked again when I want to add an additional organisation?

The short answer is, by having the password of the organisation, that means you have got the permission from that organisation and the organisation is aware of the fact that you're registering an IPT against it.

So, why is this the way of registering an organisation?

The organisational structure

Remember the GBIF Network is not only a common pool of sharing biodiversity data, to form such a pool, it's also the social network in which biodiversity data publishers interact. IPT, serves as the technical skeleton of the network, needs to tie to the organisational structure in order to properly accredit institutions or individuals, by helping to reflect those relationships among the organisations, hosted resources, IPTs and endorsing GBIF nodes/participants. The relationship can be seen on the GBIF Registry.

Take VertNet Hosting as an example. VertNet Hosting is an IPT installation that hosts data resources authored by those users in the IPT. In the second half of its page on the Registry, you see:

VertNet Hosting publishes uafmc_fish
University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center has technical installation VertNet Hosting

Which means, this IPT has a public resource called uafmc_fish, which has been registered to the GBIF Network, and this IPT is registered against University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center, which is the hosting organisation of IPT.

If you click the uafmc_fish link in the Registry page, it says:

University of Arkansas Collections Facility, UAFMC has data resource uafmc_fish

That means the uafmc_fish resource has been registered against University of Arkansas Collections Facility, UAFMC, which should have been added to the VertNet hosting IPT to be available for users to choose from, other than University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center.

So the administrator of the VertNet Hosting IPT, in this case Ms. Laura Russell, had been asked twice the different passwords she needed to register her IPT and add another organisation.

The activities can be summarised as this graphic:

Which says, with Vertnet Hosting (IPT) registered against University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center, uafmc_fish can be hosted by the IPT but tied to University of Arkansas Collections Facility, UAFMC. This means an organisation doesn't necessarily need to have the capacity to install IPT in order to host published resources. Any other IPT, with the agreement of hosting organisations, can host resources of others. This is why here the password is required.

The relationships of these units then are reflected on the Registry as:

By this design the relationship and accreditation of the GBIF Network is maintained.

Now, beyond these graphics, if you click University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center and University of Arkansas Collections Facility, UAFMC in the Registry, you'll these two statements individually in each page:

USA endorses University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center
USA endorses University of Arkansas Collections Facility, UAFMC

That means, these 2 organisations are endorsed by USA, which is a member of GBIF, and since they are endorsed, they are therefore available in the organisation drop-down list of IPT.

The endorsement process

Chances are, you're looking for your organisation in that list and you are pretty sure it's not there. What should you do?

Either you're registering IPT, or one of your user is requesting an organisation that is not available yet, you should try talk to administration level people and seek to get endorsed by a GBIF member. Normally, ➊ you or the representative of your institution write to, provide some background information and at least a technical contact, ➋ the helpdesk will look for appropriate node for you to get endorsed. Upon ➌ positive feedbacks from an endorsing node, ➍ the helpdesk will inform you the availability of your organisation and the password.

This process runs administratively because we rely on the social level to ensure the responsibility for the registered IPT and published resources. This also makes the accreditation goes to correct persons or organisations.

Hope this helps IPT experts.

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