About scientific collections

Scientific collections are at the heart of Queensland science research. The collections, and the research organisations associated with them, support regulatory, management and policy decisions. The specimens may be used for research across the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), with the potential for significant impacts in disciplines such as biomedicine, biodiversity, agriculture, evolutionary biology, and climate science.

Scientific collections defined

Scientific collections are defined as catalogued samples and specimens that are stored, managed, and used for research and information purposes. These include collections and repositories of biomedical, geological and biological (plants, animals, fungi) samples together with their associated metadata and archival material.

The value placed on collections may be difficult to define – accessibility, use, and amenity are important features of well-managed facilities. Queensland’s collections grow more valuable with new insights gained from their study and new interest created in the public through their exhibition, either physically or online.

Principles and guidelines

Four principles have been developed for the strategic oversight of Queensland’s scientific collections:

  • Decisions based on the value and cost of the collection
  • Collections are strategically aligned with each other and related organisations
  • Sustainable funding models considered, including creative and novel commercialization methods
  • Maximise availability of the collection for the public and research use

Find out more in our Principles Paper (PDF, 502.1KB) , designed in collaboration with the leaders of Queensland’s major scientific collections.

Legal obligations

The Biodiscovery Act 2004 and the Gene Technology (Queensland) Act 2016 in Queensland, as well as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, guide collection management. In 2020 the Biodiscovery Act was amended. Business Queensland have collated important information on these changes and what it means for individual collections.

These new standards ensure that collection items are preserved in their current state for the future generations of Queenslanders. They also provide ethical guidance in order to fully and cooperatively incorporate the knowledge and ownership rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, both in the collection of new biological material as well as the benefits arising from their study and exhibition.

Access to the collections

Some scientific collections are available to the public for physical access, while other collections have an online information base and are physically accessible for bona-fide researchers. Find out more about some of Queensland’s major scientific collections: