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Adopting a family

Our first attempts at merging data from the Gray Index with the Index Kewensis have been concentrated on binomials. The matching routine in use at present selects records which are identical with respect to genus name, specific epithet and page number - we can’t match on other fields since the data are not yet all standardised. (Even the page number is sometimes not obvious to the computer if it appears in a long string of collation data which may include volume and supplement numbers as well as numbers referring to plates and illustrations.) Using this routine the computer was able to match c. 85% of the Gray Index binomials with their equivalent IK record. For most of the remaining 15% an equivalent record does exist in IK but differs slightly in genus name, specific epithet or page number such that the computer could not establish an exact match. These differences are due to a variety of causes such as deliberate corrections made by the compilers while entering the data, typographic errors introduced by the compilers while entering the data, and, in the case of IK orthographic errors due to the optical scanning process by which the original hard-copy IK was converted to electronic form.

We have prepared lists of Gray Index records for which the computer was not able to find a matching record in IK on the basis of the criteria outlined above. Our experience has shown that a botanist consulting the IK data can usually find a match for each of these records very quickly. Strictly speaking, no specialist knowledge is required to find these matching records, but we have found that where botanists are working with names which are already familiar to them the work goes even more quickly - a matter of seconds per record, the limiting factor usually being the keyboard skills of the botanist. If you think you might be interested in assisting with the matching process for a particular family please contact the editors.

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