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Published May 11, 2022 | Version 1.0
Poster Open

Using OpenRefine for natural history collections data

  • 1. iDigBio, Florida State University
  • 2. iDigBio, Arizona State University


OpenRefine ( is a free, open source software for exploring and manipulating text data. As digitization and digital data management become increasingly important aspects of collections management, OpenRefine can be a useful tool to visualize data issues and to clean data efficiently. Its user interface is intuitive and provides an easier learning curve than programming languages like R, Python, SQL, etc. Additionally, because OpenRefine runs locally on your computer, it is ideal for use with sensitive data and/or no internet connection. This demo will show how to use OpenRefine’s faceting and clustering tools, which can help you identify and clean up similar values, as well as make bulk edits. The demo will also show how you can use OpenRefine to compare one column of data to another, including from an external webservice. The latter can be particularly useful when you need to reference an external authority–e.g., one that covers taxonomic nomenclature–to verify your specimen data, or when you need to acquire additional information based on the data you have–e.g., you have geographic coordinates and need to know county names.


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