Published July 12, 2021 | Version v1
Preprint Open

Towards a Common Standard for Data and Specimen Provenance in Life Sciences

  • 1. BBMRI-ERIC, Graz, AT
  • 2. BBMRI-ERIC, Graz, AT & Masaryk University, Brno, CZ
  • 3. Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia, IT
  • 4. Medical University Graz, AT
  • 5. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA
  • 6. LNS - Laboratoire national de santé, LU
  • 7. EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), UK
  • 8. Plentzia Marine Station (PiE-UPV/EHU), University of the Basque Country, EMBRC-Spain
  • 9. University of Southampton, UK
  • 10. King's College London, UK
  • 11. University of Klagenfurt, AT
  • 12. Department of Social Statistics, School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK
  • 13. Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), EMBRC-Belgium
  • 14. Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester, UK
  • 15. Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS gGmbH), Heidelberg, DE
  • 16. Independent consultant
  • 17. ITTM S.A., LU
  • 18. Biosystems and Biomaterials Division, NIST, USA
  • 19. Department of Biomedicine, The University of Basel, CH
  • 20. SCI-STI-MM, Ecole Politechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, CH
  • 21. Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression and Division of Computational Biology, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  • 22. Japan bio-Measurement and Analysis Consortium, JPN
  • 23. INSERM - Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, FR
  • 24. Standards Council of Canada & Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, CA
  • 25. Biocomplexity Institute, Indiana University, USA
  • 26. Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester, UK & Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • 27. Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, 01605, USA
  • 28. US Department of Agriculture, USA
  • 29. Interdisciplinary Bank of Biomaterials and Data Wurzburg (ibdw),Wurzburg, DE


The exchange of biological material and data has become an issue of major importance for research in biotechnology. At the same time, many reports indicate problems with quality, trustworthiness and reproducibility of research results, mainly due to poor documentation of data generation or collection of samples. Consequently, there is an urgent need for improved and standardized documentation of data and specimen used in research studies. In response to these issues, we are developing a provenance information standard for the biotechnology domain within the ISO Technical Committee 276 “Biotechnology”. The major objectives of the standard, now registered as ISO/WD 23494, are improved reproducibility of research results, enabling the assessment of the quality of biological samples and data, traceability and higher reliability of observations. We are convinced that the standardization project is of substantial interest to a broader audience, who we would also invite to comment and contribute to this comprehensive effort.


Manuscript under consideration.


Provenance_Nature_Biotech (1).pdf

Files (418.7 kB)

Name Size Download all
418.7 kB Preview Download

Additional details

Related works

Is previous version of
Journal article: 10.1002/lrh2.10365 (DOI)
Is supplemented by
Journal article: 10.1038/s41597-022-01537-6 (DOI)