Record Resolution

Record Resolution

The level of detail contained within a biological record. The higher the resolution the more precise the record. E.g. a record specific to a date has a higher resolution than a record specific to a year. This can also be referred to as record precision.

The higher the resolution of a biological record, the more precise and therefore useful it is. You can increase the resolution of a biological record by providing more detailed information about the four basic components: Who, What, Where and When.

However, it is also important that that the accuracy of a record is not compromised by increasing the resolution when insufficient information is available.


the quality or state of being correct or precise.

Therefore, the resolution at which data is submitted should never exceed the resolution at which is was recorded. For example, if a recorder wasn’t sure what date a record was made on, they should provide an accurate date range, month or even year rather than guessing the date for the record.


The full name of the recorder and determiner is preferable so any queries about the record can be directed to the correct person.


The more specific the taxonomic classification, the better.

Note: whoever determines the identification (ID) should only classify organisms to a level they’re confident with.


Use the most accurate geographic resolution appropriate for the record. Using the UK Ordnance Survey system, an 8-figure grid reference details that the species was seen within a 10m by 10m square. Whereas, a 4-figure grid reference details that the organism was seen in a 1km by 1 km square – which may be useful for birds or other organisms that travel large distances, but not useful if it’s a record of a plant.

Note: your grid reference should not be smaller in area than your survey area (e.g. if you were surveying a 100m square field for birds, you should use a 6-figure grid reference).


Providing the actual date is much more useful than just the year.

Example Low and High Resolution Biological Records

“Jane Doe looks out of her kitchen window on 18th September 2016 and notices a hedgehog in her back garden on Darwin Close.”

Using the example biological record above we can generate examples of low and high resolution versions of this record.

ComponentLow ResolutionHigh Resolution
WhoFriends of Darwin CloseJane Doe (Recorder + Determiner)
WhatMammalHedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
When201615th September 2016

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