Re-evaluation of museum voucher specimens in the modern biological research
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The previously published definitions of, and the philosophy behind, the voucher specimen are reviewed. The concept of a voucher specimen is re-evaluated in the modern biological research context, and a revised definition of a voucher is proposed. The "primary voucher" and "secondary voucher" are newly categorized within the comprehensive scheme of the voucher. The new definition and the introduction of primary and secondary vouchers enable us to accommodate a wider scope of museum resources of significant research value including those utilized for molecular studies in the framework of the voucher system. Alternatively, the essential roles of natural history museums in society as public voucher archives are evaluated. It is concluded that the shared acknowledgement of vouchers in society will make a substantial difference in our decision making and problem solving, particularly regarding the deposition of vouchers, their use, and their in perpetuity preservation.