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Protocol of the European Pollen Database

The following protocol for the EPD was agreed by the EPD Advisory Board at its meeting in Bordeaux and changed after discussion during the EPD General Assembly at the IPC 2008 in Bonn. In the event that additional changes are necessary in the future, all database contributors and users will be notified and the changes will be published on the EPD homepage. The current protocol will also be distributed with any data transferred from the EPD to a user.

A. Administrative Structure

The EPD Board consists of an elected chairperson, the spokespersons of the EPD Support Groups, and the EPD database manager. The EPD chairperson co-ordinates the Support Group activity and represents the EPD. The chairperson is elected by EPD contributors and scientists having a bona fide interest in the EPD, who must register in advance with the database manager. Nominees for the office of EPD chairperson need to be proposed before the elections by a proposer and seconder. The term of office of four years, re-election is possible. The EPD Support Groups support the database manager. The spokespersons of the Support Groups are chosen by the groups themselves. Interested scientists are encouraged to join the Support Groups. The Vice-chairmanship of the board is rotated amongst the Support Group spokespersons.

B. Data

1. Data must consist of the original counts, not percentages or digitized data.

2. The database must contain the original taxonomic identifications, with exceptions of exact nomenclatural synonymy. As primary entries, taxa will not be lumped into higher taxonomic groups in the database. For practical reasons, higher-level hierarchies will exist within the database in two ways; the first will be according to pollen morphology, the second according to plant taxonomy.

3. Data will be classified as restricted or unrestricted. All data will be available in the EPD, although restricted data can be used only as provided below.

4. Unrestricted data are available for all uses, and are included in the EPD on various electronic sites.

5. Restricted data may be used only by permission of the data originator. Appropriate and ethical use of restricted data is the responsibility of the data user.

6. Restrictions on data will expire three years after they are submitted to the EPD. Just prior to the time of expiration, the data originator will be contacted by the EPD database manager with a reminder of the pending change. The originator may extend restricted status for further periods of three years by so informing the EPD each time a three-year period expires.

C. Contributors

1. Can declare data unrestricted or restricted, but are strongly encouraged to provide data in unrestricted form so as to allow widespread use.

2. Can ask to verify that data in the database are correct. In cases where the central database manually enter the pollen counts, the database should routinely return to the data originator a copy of the data, as they are entered in the database, for optional verification by the originator.

3. May use any unrestricted data.

4. Can obtain copies of application software and the database itself for use on his/her own computer.

5. Can ask at any time that his/her restricted data be withdrawn from the database or that their status be changed to unrestricted.

6. May, by so informing the EPD, extend the restricted status of a data set after the standard three years.

7. In the case of a dispute regarding inappropriate use of restricted data, the EPD Board will serve as arbitrator.

D. Users

1. Must ask permission from the data originator for use of restricted data.

2. Should, as a matter of courtesy, inform data originators of the uses being made of their data. (But see also D 8.)

3. If the contributor wishes, should show the contributor results of analyses and manuscripts for publication for critical comment. (But see also D 8.)

4. Should cite, in any publication using data from the database, the contributors' original publications describing their data. (But see also D 8.)

5. Should send reprints of publications that use EPD data to the database centre.

6. Should acknowledge contributors for use of unpublished data and for any advice they may have provided. (But see also D 8.)

7. No user can pass data on to another party. All users must obtain data from the central database.

8. Normal ethics apply to co-authorship of publications. The contributor should be invited to be a co-author if a user makes significant use of any individual contributor's data, or any individual contributor's data comprise a substantial portion of a larger dataset analyzed, or a contributor makes a significant contribution to the analysis of the data or to the interpretation of the results. This guideline applies to unrestricted as well as to restricted data. In the case of synoptic studies that use pollen data from numerous sites it may be neither practical, possible, nor reasonable to contact all contributors or make them co-authors of the publication. It may even not be possible to cite all the publications that were used. Nonetheless, in all cases the authors should make the EPD aware of their use of the data and should include the following text in their acknowledgments: Pollen data were extracted from the European Pollen Database (http://www.europeanpollendatabase.net/). In no circumstances should authorship be attributed to data contributors, individually or collectively, without their explicit consent.

9. The data are available only to non-profit-making organizations and for research.

Profit-making organizations may use the data, even for legitimate uses, only with the written consent of the EPD Board, who will determine or negotiate the payment of any fee required.

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