Natural Collections Descriptions
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Natural Collections Descriptions (NCD)

A data standard for exchanging data describing natural history collections

  • Download: Download
  • Status: TDWG DRAFT standard
  • Category: Technical specification
  • Permanent URL:
  • TDWG task group: Natural Collections Descriptions interest group
  • Date submitted: 2008-08-12
  • Last modified: 2009-09-14


Natural Collections Description (NCD) is a proposed data standard for describing collections of natural history materials at the collection level; one NCD record describes one entire collection.

Collection descriptions are electronic records that document the holdings of an organisation as groups of items, which complement the more traditional item-level records such as are produced for a single specimen or a library book. NCD is tailored to natural history. It lies between general resource discovery standards such as Dublin Core (DC) and rich collection description standards such as the Encoded Archival Description (EAD).

The NCD standard covers all types of natural history collections, such as specimens, original artwork, archives, observations, library materials, datasets, photographs or mixed collections such as those that result from expeditions and voyages of discovery.

Please see the wiki for background, resources, crosswalks, use-cases, and meeting notes.

Charters for both the main interest group and a task group have been been posted for comment (16 Feb, 2018). (Please make comments as issues.)

Preferred citation

Natural Collections Descriptions interest group. 2008. Natural Collections Descriptions (NCD), version 2008-08-12. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG)