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Fish Division Loan Policy

Loan Policy

Loans of specimens are not made to individuals. They are made only to institutions under the name of a permanent staff member of that institution. As a consequence, requests for loans require a formal letter printed or typed on institutional letterhead, stating which specimens are being requested and why. A loan request from a student must be countersigned by the major professor or other responsible staff member who will assume responsibility for the specimens. In addition, specimens shall not be moved to another address without prior written permission.

The loan agreement will include the name, organizational affiliation, address, and signature of the person responsible for the loan; the name and address of the location where the object will be held; the accession number and description of what is being borrowed; the exact dates of the loan period; the purpose of the loan; insurance requirements; packing and shipping specifications; and any special restrictions such as photographic privileges etc.  A request from a student must be countersigned by the major advisor or other professional staff member.

To avert the chance of catastrophic loss, no more than one-half of our total specimens of a species will be lent at a time. The remainder may be requested after the first loan has been returned. Under normal circumstances, loans will be sent by FedEx, UPS, or hand-carried. For specimens that cannot be lent, we invite approved researchers to examine them at the Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division.  

Specimens on loan may not be altered in any way without express written permission from the Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division. Requests for permission to do dissection are not customarily granted but are decided on a case-by-case basis (see Dissection of Specimen Policy).

Instructions for Loan Recipients

  1. All borrowed specimens must be stored according to professionally accepted standards, including for OSUM specimens, in 70% ethanol as indicated on the loan invoice (unless otherwise noted).
  2. Loans are made to institutions, and therefore, specimens are not to be moved to another address without prior written permission from the the OSUM Fish Division Curators.
  3. Loan specimens may not be altered or dissected in any way without express written permission from the OSUM Curators (see Dissection of Specimen Policy).
  4. Loans are made for up to one year and are to be returned before the loan termination date. Time extensions must be requested in writing before the loan termination date. If an extension request is not received by the OSUM, a written inquiry will be sent on outstanding loans that have not been returned by their termination date. Failure to respond to OSUM inquiries will result in an immediate termination of the loan and call-back of the specimens. Failure to respond also will result in our second inquiry being sent to the administrative head of the recipient institution.
  5. Specimens being returned should be carefully packed in the same manner in which they were received. At the very least, all domestic returns must be sent by FedEx, UPS, or other similar high quality carriers with tracking capability. All international loans must be returned by preferred priority carriers such as FedEx or UPS, or hand-carried.
  6. Original specimen labels or tags may not be cut off, untied, removed, or revised in any way. Any suggested change(s) in specimen identification or data should be submitted in writing or noted on the invoice.
  7. The borrower is requested to provide 2 copies of any publication, or 1 copy of any book, resulting in part or whole from this loan.

By reading the above conditions and returning the signed copy of the Invoice of Specimens/Loan Form upon acceptance of loan materials, the borrower agrees to abide by the policies outlined above and any additional written stipulations for the loan of any materials from the OSUM Curators.

Dissection of Specimen Policy

The Ohio State University Museum collections are curated according to the highest professional standards to preserve and maintain the specimens, and the associated data, so they will be available in perpetuity for research and study. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in use of preserved scientific specimens in biodiversity, evolutionary, environmental, and conservation studies. This increased use is occurring at a time when wild populations are declining and when habitat loss and overexploitation threatens others with extinction. As a consequence, many museum specimens truly cannot be replaced. Therefore, dissection and even limited modification of Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division ichthyological specimens is not allowed without prior written approval by our curatorial staff.
Requests for any dissection require a formal letter printed or typed on institutional letterhead, describing the goal of the study, explaining why dissection is necessary, and outlining plans for publication. In addition, the request must indicate exactly what specimen would be dissected, what dissection procedure will be used, and what effect the dissection will have on the specimen.
Destructive sampling will not be permitted for rare or extinct fish species in the research collections.  At the discretion of the curator destructive sampling may be permitted on other fishes in the research collections provided that the sampling follows established protocols, to wit: invasion of the specimen must be conducted on the right side of the specimen, tissue removal must  not destroy bone, and shall not compromise important diagnostic characters.  Exceptions to these provisions may be allowed in certain circumstances such as where a large number of specimens exists for the species to be sampled from a particular lot.
In the few cases where dissection is allowed, all products of dissection or preparation, including, but not limited to, DNA samples, SEM stubs, histological or karyotypic slides, unused tissue samples, stomach contents, and parasites, are regarded as part of the specimens and must also be returned unless the loan agreement specifies otherwise. These products must be labeled to identify which individual specimen they came from and must be returned along with the specimen.

Gift and Exchange Policy

Occasionally specimen exchanges are conducted between institutions.  On certain occasions it may be most convenient to simply gift specimens, or portions thereof, to a researcher.  In these cases the policy that applies to data as regards use of the information associated with the specimens would also apply to all publications that make use of that data, to whit: Data are for the individual researcher's one-time personal use as originally requested and must not be transferred to third parties.  Specimen data, including specific collecting locality, GIS coordinates, date of collection, collector, or other associated data, will not be incorporated in its raw form in any publicly available database (e.g., web site, compact disc, hard copy) without prior written permission.
OSUM is the approved abbreviation for referencing specimens at the Ohio State University Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division, and according to copyright restrictions mandated by The Ohio State University all publications based entirely or in part on specimen records or raw data derived from OSUM cataloged specimens shall explicitly acknowledge use of OSUM data. Reprints of each paper or a copy of any book that results from research on OSUM specimens should be sent to the Fish Division, OSU Museum of Biological Diversity.
In addition, the portions of Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division policy that applies to loans also applies in part to gifts of specimens or parts of specimens from the OSUM Collection of Fishes as pertains to the types of parties that may request gifts, as well as the limits applied to the quantities and categories of specimens that will be gifted, to whit:

Loan of Material from the Teaching Collection of Fishes

The Museum of Biological Diversity Fish Division maintains a collection of fish specimens for teaching and study purposes.  The predominance of these specimens are stored in 70% ethanol.  The teaching collections are cataloged separately from the research collections.  The catalog records for the teaching collection have no locality data associated with them (thus the reason they are not suitable for the research collection).  We maintain a teaching collection covering all the fish families represented in Ohio, as well as a synoptic collection that contains selected specimens representing families outside Ohio, including marine as well as freshwater species.  These specimens may be loaned out to educational institutions or individuals desiring to use fish specimens for an educational presentation.  Loans of the teaching collection materials will not exceed 6 months in duration.