The most widely used machines follow the IBM standard. If buying new, with no special requirements in mind, it is probably better to acquire a computer of this type. The advantages in conformity, compatibility and (relatively) lower initial cost may outweigh other considerations.
The program used for recording can be one of several types. A Database program is specifically designed for the entering, manipulation and searching of records. A Spreadsheet program may, however, be used for the same purpose. It is not designed for data recording, but those who are very familiar with advanced spreadsheets can devise perfectly satisfactory methods of recording fungi. The BMSFRD Database Co-ordinator and Database Manager can accept data in this form, provided details of the record structure are supplied. As stated several times in this document, it is the keeping records that is important, not the specific method. If records are later to be exported to the BMSFRD it is a relatively straightforward process to modify the fields of the source database. If considering a transfer of data get in touch with the BMSFRD Database Co-ordinator for advice on how best to proceed.
Manuscript or typescript records
Except in the case of large and valuable historical records the BMSFRD manager would prefer these to be processed by local recording groups and sent in on disk. In special cases of converting batches of old manuscript records onto computer media it may be possible to get financial assistance from the BMS. If you are an individual or Group recorder not using a computer database to store your records you may wish to enter them on the Site Record Sheet (See Appendix 2).
It makes good sense to enter records according to site since all the records will share the greatest number of common field entries - this will make it possible to use a rapid method of entering these fields. The sheets should be photocopied before despatch in case of loss and then submitted to a third party willing to process them for you. The BMSFRD Database Co-ordinator is not in a position to accept data unless it has been entered into a computer and can be submitted electronically.
Sending records electronically
Send on diskette, CD, by e-mail or other form of electronic transfer, to the BMSFRD Database Co-ordinator. The data will be checked to ensure that they are compatible with the BMSFRD. They will also be checked for errors, and unusual records may be queried at this stage. The task of the Co-ordinator is to get the records into a form where the Database Manager can add them to the BMSFRD with the minimum of effort. Records can be based on the BMSFRD format or they may be on a personal database. If the latter, it is not necessary to include every column in the data extract, or even to keep them in the same order as the BMSFRD fields shown above.
For instance, a table in a personal database may have the fungus name as the first column rather than the last as in the BMSFRD, and it may lack several of the other columns. This is not a problem provided that records are submitted in a consistent structure. Otherwise it becomes almost impossible to import the data into the BMSFRD. It helps to have the column headers labelled with the appropriate name, especially if the table structure is different. Also the field lengths should not be greater than stipulated and if abbreviations have been used they should be the recommended ones.
To reduce the work to be done by others spelling should be carefully checked and typographical errors corrected, particularly in the fungus name. A good ‘manual’ way of doing