Join the Paleobiology Database

Who should join

We encourage all members of the paleontological community to become contributors to the Paleobiology Database ("data authorizers"). We accept paleontological data of all kinds, including terrestrial, marine, plant, animal, macrofossil, and microfossil data. We especially urge taxonomists and paleontologists from outside the United States to participate.

Normally, authorizers have a Ph.D. and want to reposit faunal, floral, or taxonomic data, or measurements and images of fossils. Graduate students may contribute by becoming data enterers under the supervision of authorizers at their academic institution or in their local area.

How to join

Joining the Database is easy. If you want to become a data authorizer, simply write an e-mail to a Database officer such as the Executive Committee's Chair or Secretary stating:

  • General information about your academic background
  • A list of some of your relevant publications
  • The time interval, geographic area, and taxonomic group you plan to work on
  • The type of data you plan to enter:
    • Faunal or floral occurrences, with data on the context of fossil collections
    • Taxonomic data such as authority information, synonymies, and classifications
    • Taxonomic reidentifications of occurrences entered by yourself or others
    • Ecological or taphonomic data about taxa
    • Measurements of fossils
    • Digital images
  • Any plans you have to work with other data contributors
  • Your contact information

We will then forward your information to our Executive Committee. After a few days, we will get back to you with comments and advice such as names of potential data entry mentors and information about other members working on similar projects. Once you have been accepted as a new member, you simply need to give us your preferred password and an account will be set up for you right away.

If you want to become a data enterer and your thesis advisor or colleague is an authorizer, simply ask them to have your name added to the list. No formal procedure needs to be followed.

Why you should join

It works

  • Our software has been implemented since 1998 and is heavily debugged
  • Our systems can accept all the major kinds of paleontological data
  • You can log in to the system and start entering data right away, without having to worry about defining your own data formats and table structure
  • If you want to, you can make your data available to everyone immediately
  • We quickly respond to user queries, suggestions, and requests
  • We only write software that people tell us they want to use - we don't waste time with white elephant projects

It's comprehensive

  • We are the only database that covers the entire fossil record
  • We have an order of magnitude more data and data contributors than any other online macrofossil database
  • Our site is among the top three listed by Google when you search for more than half of all fossil taxa

It will help your research

  • You can keep track of your data by generating maps, data tables, diversity curves, taxonomic classifications, and synonymy histories
  • By sharing your data with colleagues, you can get more done without duplication
  • You can form a research group that communally shares otherwise protected data
  • By entering your data you create a permanent record of your work
  • You can raise your stature by Online Systematics Archives

It's for everyone

  • The Paleobiology Database is a true community resource run by and for paleontologists, not just computer scientists
  • We bring together researchers from around the globe
  • Our rapidly growing data sets have been created by scores of researchers
  • Once you enter data, no-one ever has to do this footwork again - it's a huge public service

It's safe

  • We back up data nightly on a second server and periodically at multiple institutions, so there is no chance of data loss
  • You can download all your data at any time
  • No-one else other than you can modify your occurrence data
  • If you don't want your data to be visible at first, you can fully protect your occurrence data from being seen even by other Database members for up to two years (or five years for your own unpublished data)
  • Our fully relational data tables follow communally defined and vetted formats
For new members

Here is some basic navigational information for new Database members once they have accounts:

  • To enter data, you need to log in. The login link on the home page's navigation bar.
  • You need to enter the name of the authorizer and enterer (often the same person) and the password on the login page. Enter last names first and they should automatically fill in.
  • Once you log in you will go to a "Main menu" that gives links for data entry, access, and analysis functions.
  • There is a "Contributor's home page" page that gives links to informational pages of assorted kinds.
  • Before entering data, you should carefully read the "data entry tutorial," which is linked to the bottom of the main menu.
  • After or while reading that page, you should read the assorted tip sheets linked to the bottom of the main menu, and then enter test data on the backup server, which is linked to the tutorial.
  • Don't forget to go to the main menu, click on "Change editing permissions list," and enter names of your heir and permitted editors.
  • If you want to log out, click your name on the navigation bar. You can stay logged in indefinitely as long as you continue using the system.