Specimen Citations

If an unequivocal relationship exists between a particular specimen and a page in the publication, then it is a Citation. Ideally, a publication refers to specimens by their catalog numbers and institutions, but data can be entered for specimens that were cataloged after they were cited, or that were cited by some other identifier such as a field number. 

Parts of a Specimen Citation

A specimen citation includes:


Citation.Publication_ID (FK) INTEGER not null

There cannot be a Citation until the Publication has been included in the database. Because full citation includes a page number, the best practice is to enter citations only when the publication is in its final form.


Citation.Identification_ID (FK) INTEGER not null

Citations link to, and ideally create, Identifications for specimens.

Publication Page Number

Citation.Occurs_Page_Number INTEGER null

The number of the first page on which the specific specimen is mentioned. Referrals to the specimen on subsequent pages within the same publication are ignored.

Basis of Citation

Citation.Type_Status VARCHAR(20) not null


This describes the context in which the specimen was cited. It is possible that one specimen was cited in more than one context within a single publication. In this case, use either the first context in which the specimen is cited, or the most important context in which the specimen is cited. Vocabulary is controlled by a code table.

Cited As

Citation.identification_ID (FK) INTEGER not null

The Identification.Scientific_Name to which the author(s) applied the specimen in the publication. Sometimes this must be inferred from the publication because the author has not explicitly identified individual specimens. For example, the whole paper is about wolverines, Gulo gulo, and individual specimens are only listed by catalog number. In at least one case, an author has treated a whole family, listed the specimens examined, but not their identifications to species. In this case, the cited taxonomic identification is the family. It is preferable to create Identifications sensu the publication, even when the publication does not explicitly create names or re-identify specimens, as doing so supports more-detailed queries.

Creating Specimen Citations

Citations are a linkage between a cataloged item (via Identifications) and a page in a publication. They contain little information, being essentially a connection between existing sets of information. Therefore in order to create citations, three items must already be present in Arctos:

  1. the publication
  2. the cataloged item
  3. the cited scientific name (Often the same as the current identification but not always. Therefore, we record what the publication said.)

Citations can be individually entered by finding the publication from the Search -> Publication/Project tabs, clicking the Citation Button, and using the form (Citation.cfm) to enter the appropriate information. You can select the cited specimens by catalog number or an Other Identifier. The form will automatically fill in the catalog number (if an Other_ID was used), and the current taxonomic determination for the specimen. You then select the scientific name by which the publication cited the item.

Erroneous Citations

In entering Cited As determinations and comparing them to current determinations, errors within the publication sometimes become evident. For example the cited specimen is described as a walrus in the publication, but the published catalog number indicates a mouse… a typographical error that becomes nonsense only when the published catalog number is resolved. We cannot correct the publication, but we should not leave obvious errors unremarked, if for other reason than it leaves the data in Arctos suspect. There is a value of Basis of Citation for this situation: “erroneous citation.” In addition to using “erroneous citation” for the actual citation, it may be possible to correct the error in Arctos with an additional (what was meant) citation, if the author’s true meaning can be obtained or logically inferred.

If you can establish the author’s intention with reasonable certainty, then create an additional citation to the correct specimen. The actually (and incorrectly) cited record should be designated “erroneous citation,” and Citation Remarks should say something like, “An incorrect transcription of MVZ 123456.” The second citation of the intended record should have the appropriate value for Basis of Citation, and Citation Remarks should say something like, “Specimen was incorrectly cited as MVZ 125456.” With this, anyone coming from the publication should be able to find their way to the correct meaning.

Bulk-loading Citations

In publications that cite numerous specimens, it is often efficient to bulkload the citations, especially if they are in tabular form within an electronic copy of the document. This can be done by copying and pasting the table from the publication into a spreadsheet. It must then be formatted to exactly match the key fields in Arctos, and exported as a comma-delimited text file. The tool for uploading this file, and a detailed description of the file are found from Bulkload Citations on the Tool tab.

Searching Specimen Citations

Searching for specimens by the nature of their citation, or for specimens that have been cited, can be done from the “Usage” segment of the Arctos search form (SpecimenSearch.cfm). Type specimens can also be sought using Nature of ID = type specimen in the Identification and Taxonomy segment of the same form. Because this kind of Nature of ID does not require a citation, its use has been inconsistent.