Two pre-meeting workshops will be held during the afternoon of Wednesday, 12 August.

Get the most out of your data
through proper archiving and sharing

Date: Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Time: 13:00 – 17:00
Location: Class of 49, Houston Hall

Contact: Ellen Paul, Ornithological Council,


Ornithology is rich in data that are underutilized because they are not accessible. Ornithologists conduct research projects, collect data, analyze data, and publish papers. The data then go silent, vanquished to the attic in boxes full of note cards and field notebooks, cabinets full of punch cards, old magnetic tape, floppy disks (in one of 22 formats and three sizes), CDs, and USB storage devices. Most are never to be seen again. Decades of data are disappearing rapidly and irretrievably because the scientists who collected the data had no opportunity to archive them in a physical or electronic form. Whether on paper or in some kind of electronic medium, datasets collected over the past century could contribute greatly to our knowledge of avian biology. These data can, if liberated from their unmarked graves in their data cemeteries, answer many more questions, especially in conjunction with other datasets.

Many other scientific disciplines, realizing the value of the data generated today and yesterday, have already established data archives. Ornithology benefits from their trail-blazing and lessons-learned, in that we now have a body of experience to draw upon in creating an ornithological data archive. The Ornithological Council has embarked upon a project to establish an archive for ornithological research data and plans to use this workshop as outreach to those interested in participating and to the ornithological community at large. We plan to discuss three fundamental topics:

  1. An overview of data sharing and archiving – the value (and limitations) of shared data, technical details of archiving and data sharing.
  2. Metadata – a critically necessary exercise.
  3. Technical methods and practices to balance the interests and rights of researchers with the value of shared data.

Innovative Teaching in Ornithology

Date: Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Time: 15:30 - 17:00
Location: Ben Franklin Room, Houston Hall (tentative)

Contacts: Daniel Barton,, or Megan Whitman,

The AOU Student Affairs Committee, in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Education Program, is excited to offer this pre-meeting workshop. This lively and useful session will provide a forum to discuss new ideas and best practices for teaching ornithology and related classes. Although intended as a professional development opportunity for students, it is also a valuable opportunity for faculty members to learn from each other.

Leading ornithology professors will give brief presentations illustrating creative teaching techniques:

A panel discussion will immediately follow, addressing questions such as: Does active learning have to take more prep time than traditional lecturing? Where can I find resources on writing a syllabus, or ornithology-specific teaching materials? How much does teaching factor into promotion and tenure decisions?

No advanced sign up is required for this event.  Seating will be on a first come, first serve basis.

We encourage anyone interested in contributing resources for the workshop or a follow-up website to contact the workshop organizers at the addresses above.