EOL Computable Data Challenge

UPDATE: The entry deadline has passed and we are no longer accepting applications. 


  • To contribute to progress in biological science
  • To provide case studies that demonstrate the value of aggregating organismal information across multiple providers
  • To identify feature and computable data requirements that may improve EOL's ability to support science in the future


EOL has spent four years aggregating text, multimedia, and hyperlinks from more than 200 content providers, representing thousands of individual contributors and a wide range of biological subjects. We have reorganized and delivered this information in a standardized format for multiple audiences, both via our user-friendly web interface and via an Application Programming Interface (API). Information is now available on nearly one million organisms ranging from sub-specific to higher taxa; most but not all information is in English and geographic scope is worldwide. The subjects and types and richness of information on each page vary; an index of richness is available for each page. All information is either in the public domain or licensed with Creative Commons licenses and therefore available for re-use and text-mining. Information is subject to curation and re-identification. However, the computability of this information has not been tested. How can EOL be used for scientific analyses? What transformations or additional computable data sources might be necessary?

The challenge

We invite ideas for scientific research projects that use EOL, including the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), to answer questions in biology. The specific field of biological interest for the challenge is open; projects in ecology, evolution, behavior, conservation biology, developmental biology, or systematics may be most appropriate. Projects advancing informatics alone may be less competitive. EOL may be used as a source of biological information, to establish a sampling strategy, to assist the retrieval of computable data by mapping identifiers across sources (e.g. to accomplish name resolution), and/or in other innovative ways. Projects involving data or text or image mining of EOL or BHL content are encouraged. Current EOL data and API shall be used; suggestions for modification of content or the API could be a deliverable of the project.  We encourage the use of data not yet in EOL for analyses. In all cases projects must honor terms of use and licensing as appropriate.

Your proposed project will:

  • begin no earlier than June 15, 2012 and end no later than May 31, 2013
  • be conducted using your own personnel (rather than EOL’s), whose support may be included in the project budget
  • result in a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed open access science journal (fees may be included in the project budget)
  • openly share any extracted data via EOL and/or other appropriate repository
  • release any software developed with EOL support under open source licenses suitable to both parties.


Total available prize funds are US$50,000. Multiple awards are possible, depending on submitted budgets. All prize funds must be spent before May 31, 2013.

Submission process

Please describe your project idea in 3-6 pages with the following sections:

  • Introduction (clearly identify the area of biology and question(s) to be answered)
  • Methods (explain how the EOL content, EOL API, or other EOL functionality will be used)
  • Relationship to ongoing work (how this fits into other projects you or others are doing)
  • Timeline and milestones
  • Dissemination plan for research results, data, and software

In addition, please submit:

  • Literature cited (up to two pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae of all personnel (abbreviated versions are permitted)
  • Budget (up to one page). May include hourly labor costs, equipment, travel, and open access publishing fees. Any indirect costs must be built into other line items.

Submit all materials to eol.data.challenge@gmail.com


Submissions are due by May 31, 2012.


Ideas may be submitted by individuals or institutions. International applicants are encouraged. Note that awards will be made by purchase order and will not be considered a grant. Subcontracts are the responsibility of the individual or institution. Personnel already receiving EOL funding are not eligible.


Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of scientists both internal and external to EOL.

Criteria will include:

  • Does the project use EOL effectively?
  • Will the results advance biological science?
  • Is the project achievable and cost-effective?
  • Will the project assist EOL in better understanding how it can serve science?

Questions and information

Please visit the EOL Computable Data Discussion community for more information and to ask questions.