Abstract

The John Williams Index of Palaeopalynology (JWIP) is the result of the lifetime's work of Dr John E. Williams. Housed at the Department of Palaeontology of The Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, the JWIP is publically available and provides probably the most comprehensive fully cross-referenced catalogue on palaeopalynology in the world. It has 23,350 references to fossil palynomorph genera or species as of February 2012. Since its inception in 1971, every publication in the collection referring to a fossil palynomorph genus or species has been critiqued by John E. Williams. Each item is given an accession number and appropriately referenced within the JWIP using index cards which are sorted alphabetically. Once added to the main reference subindex, further entries are completed for four themed subindexes. The first three of these are sets of cards on the three major palynomorph groups (acritarchs/dinoflagellate cysts, chitinozoa and pollen/spores), 26 stratigraphical intervals and 17 geographical areas. The fourth themed subindex is where each palynomorph taxon has a card (or cards) listing all the records of that species in the literature within six categories (acritarchs, dinoflagellate cysts, chitinozoa, fungal spores, pollen/spores and miscellaneous). Due to the sustained and meticulous recording of data since 1971, users can therefore search the database by major palynomorph group, species, age and/or geographical region. The comprehensive and cross-referenced nature of the JWIP means that researchers can readily identify key publications on, for example, specific palynomorph types over a particular interval in a prescribed area. The JWIP is currently entirely analogue, but the NHM is currently evaluating potential strategies for digitisation.

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