Thursday, August 20, 2020

Important message from the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)

 WoRMS needs YOU! 


WoRMS is a highly collaborative effort of over 500 involved experts, but we need all users – taxonomists, ecologists and non-scientists – to help us to keep WoRMS up-to-date and correct. If you find an error or an omission, please get in touch with us directly. Direct contact can fix errors a lot faster and more efficient than the WoRMS Team having to learn about these through peer-reviewed publications.


The World Register of Marine Species is a community driven effort to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms. The only way to achieve this goal is through broad-scale collaboration between taxonomic experts from a wide range of disciplines, regions and backgrounds. The past thirteen years have been a story of success, with more than 500 taxonomic and thematic editors volunteering their time to participate in the creation of this unique and freely available resource.


WoRMS is truly collaborative and does not rely on the taxonomic editors alone to improve its content and functionality. The input of its users is critical to the work of WoRMS, to provide feedback, spot omissions and errors, and in making suggestions for improved tools and new features the community needs. The support of the Data Management Team, in processing the numerous enquiries from users, answering or directing them to the right editor, and ensuring they are dealt with swiftly, is also key to the success of the database.


We write this plea for direct contact with the WoRMS team in response to a number of publications written with the aim of highlighting errors and omissions in WoRMS, but without contacting the WoRMS team to inform us of the issues . Although the WoRMS team can fix omissions and errors quite rapidly – on average within a few days – we do need to be aware of them.


With over 500 editors making edits on the database on a daily and voluntary basis – the Steering Committee and the Data Management Team cannot 'police' everything that is being edited, and thus we rely on trust, expertise and goodwill of users and experts to inform us of problems that we can then look into. 


If you notice any errors or omissions in WoRMS we ask that you please simply contact us at, rather than writing editorials or blogs or publishing about them. Once the WoRMS Data Management Team have been alerted to the issue then the feedback can be logged and dealt with swiftly and efficiently by either addressing it directly or rerouting it to the responsible editor and/or the WoRMS Steering Committee. It would be most useful if you can also provide relevant documents/research papers together with your feedback to help us processing your feedback quickly. 


If we do not know about the problem, we cannot fix it – but we do promise to work to solve issues once we are informed of them. Working together, we can improve WoRMS for all users.