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It's alive! The official launch of

I was delighted to launch earlier this week! After more than a year of planning, testing, debugging, and repeating as necessary, the site went officially live to the public this week and has had a great reception already. I created this site because I felt that, despite a lot of great, new digital databases, there was still a gap in the availability of 3D image data for the academic and educational community, as well as a lack of an easy, free repository for the many surface and CT scans that lots of us gather for our own research. In many cases, I need lots of specimens of the same species for my work, and few places are interested in hosting 160 scans of Xenopus skulls, or are focused on only one kind of data (palaeontological, ontogenetic, zoological) or one kind of scan (CT vs surface). As these divisions are increasingly irrelevant, and many people will rely on large sample sizes for future research projects, we need better ways of sharing raw data. Plus, I quite frankly had 20TB of 3D scans burning a hole in my virtual pocket.

In addition to the obvious goal of providing freely downloadable 3D stl files, phenome10K has a number of useful features. Scans can be linked directly to a publication, which is downloadable directly from the scan page. This also means that each paper on the publication page has a direct link to all of the images that are associated with it. This attribute ensures that the contributors who are uploading scans are directly and easily acknowledged (and cited) by future users, rather than the website itself hogging all of the glory. For contributors, the default when uploading new files is for them to remain hidden to the public unless the contributor selects the "publish" option. This allows one to upload their scans even before they are ready to make them available to others for use (e.g., until they've published the related study).

Anybody can search the library and publications page, but to download anything, you must register on the site. This is a very simple form that allows us to keep track of how many users the site has. Once you've registered, the library page will display a "CONTRIBUTE" tab along the top. If you have scans you'd like to share, click here and you'll be directed to a page with a short form to complete and send (to me) to request the ability to upload new files. This is important for quality control, as I'd be afraid to see what people might upload if any random passerby could add content... In addition to the form, there are detailed instructions on how to add and manage uploads, and this screen is always accessible for registered users. As noted in the "ABOUT" page, all data is protected by a Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted. I also request that any contributors obtain any required permissions from relevant repositories before posting new scans. Most of the ones I've approached have been more than happy for their specimens to be imaged (and also appreciated the free advertising of their collections), but there are some who may have policies requiring certain forms of acknowledgement or for details on copyright to be included in the specimen descriptions.

I'm very happy with how the site has turned out, although I expect we'll continue to tweak it as it gets bigger and better. I'd love to hear any positive or negative feedback from users or contributors, as this will help us stay on top of any potential issues. I'm ecstatic that we already have a number of contributors adding new data, and I look forward to seeing it grow!

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Recent coverage of our work in the Guardian and Scientific American

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