Digitisation guidance

The Atlas of Living Australia (Atlas) has access to biodiversity information only because the information is available in digital form. To assist data providers create and manage digital data, the Atlas has been cooperating with partners to produce a range of guidance on different aspects of digitisation.

See also Imaging Hints and Tips for information on a range of imaging topics.

What is digitisation?

Digitisation is essentially making a digital version of an object (eg specimen, work of art, photograph, analogue sound file, videotape), wrapping that version in metadata and making it available for sharing.

Core digitisation activities

Digitisation has six core activities:

Digitisation components

Digitisation components

Digitisation process

The process of digitisation follows a five-step model:

Digitisation process

Digitisation process

Digitisation maturity model

To help you improve your digitisation activities you can use the digitisation maturity model. This model allows you to rate your ‘digitisation maturity’ on a scale of zero to five and explains the actions you need to take to improve that maturity against each of the core digitisation activities. Details of the model are given in Digitisation: A strategic approach for natural history collections [.pdf 9.3 MB].

Digitisation maturity model

Digitisation maturity model


This document is also available as an ebook from the Apple iBookstore.


Most Atlas partners have effective mechanisms to database their collections, but creating a digital image of a specimen or field note book or ledger has been a challenge because of limited resources or equipment.

Generic specimen imaging process picture

Generic specimen imaging process

To inform our support for imaging activities, the Atlas commissioned Dr Les Walkling to review the imaging needs of collecting institutions. In his report Digital Imaging Requirements Review[.pdf 759KB] Les talks about:

Following from this report, Atlas is developing a range of practical guidance to assist our partners and other data providers better image their collection:

Download Introduction to Resolution [.pdf 3.7MB] for an short introduction to digital resolution (courtesy of Dr Les Walkling).

Using volunteers for digitisation

About the project

The Australian Museum (AM) and South Australian Museum (SAMA), in association with the Atlas, have been exploring the use of volunteers to image and database specimens:

As indicated in the final reports of the project, both exercises demonstrated the value of using volunteers to image and database specimens.



Documents produced by the Australian Museum are available on their website and those from the South Australian museum on their site. All provide a basis for other institutions establishing a volunteer-based digitisation program.

Personal accounts

Read the personal accounts of those involved in this project:

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