Different researchers and institutions capture and store data in the forms and combinations which best meet their needs. However, in order to make this data more widely accessible and to ensure it can be reused for different purposes, data providers need to consider the most appropriate way to expose their data. They need to decide which structures and terms will be best recognised by others. 

Once these decisions have been made, data providers need to ensure their data is transformed (or mapped) into these standard forms, and that the data set is associated with a good description and additional information on the source and ownership of the data, again in a form which can be understood by other users.

Sharing data therefore depends on the consistent use of agreed standards. Many different standards exist for different purposes. 

Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) produces an annual Technical Roadmap which provides recommendations for best practices in data sharing between biodiversity informatics projects.