Search Catalogues

Browse catalogues




Search Web Site



Site Map

CABRI Guidelines

Procedures Manual

    1. Introduction

    CABRI stands for Common Access to Biotechnological Resources and Information - an online service where users can search a number of European Biological Resource Centre catalogues. The catalogues may be searched independently, or as one, and the located materials ordered online or by post.

    The service has been designed, implemented, and is maintained by a number of European Biological Resource and Information Centres, all of whom are committed to the highest quality standards. CABRI currently contains the catalogues of (in alphabetical order):

    BCCM, Brussels, Belgium,
    CABI Bioscience, Egham, UK
    CBS, Utrecht, The Netherlands,
    CIP, Institute Pasteur, Paris, France,
    DSMZ, Braunschweig, Germany,
    ECACC, Salisbury, UK,
    INRC, Genoa, Italy,
    NCIMB, Aberdeen, UK.


    2. Quality standards

    CABRI members must have a proven history of offering a public service, have clear mission statements and goals, and operate along established internal infrastructure standards.

    All the resources and services on offer through CABRI have to be of a uniform high standard of quality. Members must therefore have written internal quality assurance policies in place which define clear accession policies, quality control and distribution procedures. These should be similar to, and certainly of the same quality, as the CABRI Guidelines for the organism or service in question. These guidelines can be obtained from the CABRI WEB site at www.cabri.org. All CABRI guidelines are regularly reviewed and refereed both internally and externally so that users can be assured they are being offered the highest quality materials and services.

    3. CABRI and the European Biological Resource Centre Network (EBRCN)

CABRI was developed as a partially funded EC Demonstration project. The Biological Resource Centres (BRCs) involved in this work will soon form the European Biological Resource Centre Network (EBRCN). CABRI will continue to be the public, WEB-based, catalogue and information service of this group.

In addition to running CABRI, the EBRCN will:

    1. Establish a quality conscious group of biological resource centres who work together to guarantee that customers receive top quality materials;
    2. Improve access to individual centre’s catalogues by producing searchable electronic versions of their catalogues and mounting these in a common searchable environment (i.e. to maintain CABRI);
    3. Develop suitable bioinformatics solutions to the needs of the centres and their customers;
    4. Develop efficient methods to best use Europe’s resources in terms of reacting to the challenges of the biodiversity conventions;
    5. Attract users and producers of cultures with regard to depositing and storing essential materials;
    6. Provide a focal point for European centres to combine their efforts on matters of common importance.

The EBRCN will initially consist of:

    4. Joining CABRI

    CABRI membership is open to any recognised European Biological Resource Centre, willing and able to work to the CABRI levels of quality. There is no a priori limit on the size nor the materials in the collection.

    To join CABRI, the applying centre must first notify the CABRI secretary of its interest. The CABRI Technical Committee will then review all operating procedures and quality checks used in the centre, and the descriptions of catalogues and data entry procedures.

    When the reviewing procedure is satisfactorily completed, the new member will be formally admitted to the CABRI service. Acceptance implies that the centre will abide by the quality control and other operating procedures in place for the CABRI membership. The catalogue of the new member will then be mounted on the CABRI server along with other subsidiary information such as a link from the CABRI Home Page to the centre’s WEB site where local information on prices and ordering policies can be stored. A small "entry fee" of 3,500.00 Euro will be charged to help offset the costs of refereeing and catalogue preparation.

    Review of operating procedures

    The applicant should submit its own representative operating procedure manuals to the Technical Committee. These should include all relevant documents used in the centre, such as flow sheets, description of processes and internal quality management procedures. Proof that these procedures are in place and in use must also be furnished, and the Technical Committee should be notified of any changes in procedures: audit trails are a necessary part of CABRI membership.

    As CABRI is an international organisation all the relevant quality control documents should be in English, although those manuals used in the centre on a daily basis may naturally be in the local language. The applicant should also nominate a staff member to act as CABRI representative. This person will be responsible for the interactions between CABRI and the centre during the application process and later ensure that any local updates and changes in procedures are passed to CABRI as well as checking that alterations to CABRI procedures are noted when they are relevant to that collection.

    On receipt of these documents, the CABRI Technical Committee will review them and if necessary request clarification or further documentation. When an in principle agreement has been reached that the quality of the documents is sufficient, CABRI will arrange for a site visit to take place, sending one or more suitably qualified staff to the centre to finalise the checking and administrative procedure.

    Review of catalogues

    Biological Resource Centres who wish to become members of CABRI must mount their catalogues on the CABRI server so that these can be searched. Therefore, the centre should also submit a description of its catalogue which should include its size, the present availability, a description of the system and software the catalogue is built in and running under, and its update frequency and descriptions of the different data fields and a brief authentication. A few sample records should be included (see annex).

    CABRI has defined input processes (IP) and several types of Data Sets for each type of organism. An input process provides a general description of requirements for data entry and data validation. The Data Sets describe the formats and contents of the required and optional fields.

    CABRI allows centres to submit files with fields that are not yet included in the existing Data Sets. Members should first submit the structure of these fields to the Technical Committee to ensure that no confusion nor problems with the searching system arise.

    To enable the SRS software to mount the catalogues for searching the files must be sent in a flat file format to the CABRI server.

    For more details on Data Sets, input processes, flat file preparation and file submission to the CABRI host, see the Guidelines for Catalogue Production.

    5. Quality Control and Audit Procedures

CABRI membership brings with it an obligation to follow accepted quality norms. In order to ensure that these are in operation all members of CABRI will be subjected to audit checks.

Internal collection audits

At least once each year an internal audit is to be carried out by the collection management to ensure that the member collection policies and procedures, as set out in the collection procedures or protocols submitted to CABRI, are being followed. The review should include a strain deposit trail through to storage, and a supply trail from receipt of order to supply. These should be chosen at random. Customer complaints, and actions taken on these complaints, should also be included and summarised by category.

Main questions to be answered during the audit:

    • Have the recommendations resulting from the previous audit been implemented? What were the results?
    • Are all procedures carried out exactly as they are described in the protocols? If not, why not? Is there a reason to update the protocols?
    • Are there any (new) procedures not covered by the existing protocols?
    • Are there processes with a (relatively) high percentage of negative results? If so, what can be done to improve the procedures?
    • How many and what kind of complaints have been received? How have these been handled?

The results are internally discussed, clear recommendations are formulated, and a time scale is set for their implementation. A report of the audit, including the questions formulated above, the answers, and recommendations with time scale, will be sent to the CABRI Technical Committee.

External collection audits

Each year, the CABRI Technical Committee will carry out audit visits to randomly selected collections. Essentially, the (TC) member visiting the centre has to answer the same questions as the centre has to answer itself during an internal audit. It may not be feasible to check all processes in detail, a few processes must then be selected for this purpose. The TC member will discuss his conclusions with the Collection Manager, and produce an audit report containing conclusions and recommendations. In case of a disagreement between the TC member and collection manager, both views will be mentioned in the report. This report will contain a confidentiality statement, to be signed by the auditor on behalf of the TC, before it is submitted to the Technical Committee.

The Technical Committee will then decide whether the procedures followed by the centre are sufficient to guarantee that the CABRI quality standards are met. Any further recommendations will be sent by the Technical Committee to the centre, who will set a time scale for their implementation. This will be submitted back to the TC.


All audit records, reviews and implementation records are held by the Collection Manager.

It is the responsibility of the Collection Manager to verify that all corrective actions required by audits have been completed, within the agreed time scale.

If a member fails to implement the recommendations formulated after internal or external audits, the TC will formally request the centre to implement them. If, after repeated requests, the centre still does not implement these recommendations, and thereby fails to adhere to the agreed quality standards, or if a centre no longer operates as a BRC offering biological resources, it will be asked to leave CABRI by the Executive Board.

    6. The web site

    The public face of CABRI is the CABRI server www.cabri.org. Here, customers can search the catalogues using the SRS software which allows one to interrogate one or more catalogues at the same time.

    The web site is currently maintained on the INRC server located at ABC in Genoa, Italy. The content is maintained by the web-site manager but overall responsibility is held by the Web-site editor and editorial board. At the present time the Scientific Secretary acts as the editor and the Technical Committee acts as editorial board. Changes should first be sent to the Web-site editor who, in combination with the Technical Committee, will ensure that the changes are neither trivial nor conflicting.

    Changes to documentation and web pages must be sent to the web-site editor at least 21 days in advance of their intended release date, who will send them to the web-site manager within a week. The web-site manager will send the files to all mirror managers immediately. This is to ensure that the editorial processes can take place so that mirror sites can arrange for translations etc.

    Similarly, changes to the catalogues should be submitted by the collections to the web-site manager who will immediately modify the on-line catalogues and re-index them. The automatic mirroring procedure will then implement those changes in the mirror sites. No translation is foreseen.

    These procedures will allow the CABRI server and all mirror sites to remain simultaneously concurrent and up-to-date.

    7. Mirroring the CABRI web site

    It is expected that the CABRI Web site will be mirrored at other sites. This will make the CABRI catalogues available to the widest possible audience and ensure that the catalogues are always available (by limiting the possibility of network timeouts and routing difficulties). (see annex)

    In principle any CABRI centre can establish a mirror. The content and the links from this mirror to other files fall however under the responsibility of the CABRI Technical Committee and mirror sites must ensure they do nothing to harm other members nor CABRI itself.

    The CABRI mirrors must include a copy of the main CABRI site and can then include translations of the relevant pages into their national language. The accuracy of the translations is the responsibility of the mirror site, as is the financing of the process and the system.

    CABRI mirrors may also include local and international materials related to CABRI, such as original papers, and further documentation and help not developed by the main site, especially if these are in the national language. However the final content residing under the CABRI logo must be approved by the CABRI Technical Committee, which can request the removal of such material if they feel it does not fit general CABRI aims and standards.

    The mirror must include all the main CABRI site distribution lists, without any exclusions and/or modifications, but must not include those sections of the original site that have not been designed for mirroring, e.g. the restricted documentation section.

    The mirror must be updated at least once a week and be updated whenever a request to do so comes from the main site. When a translation of the original texts is being maintained, this must be kept up-to-date by modifying the texts accordingly. The Editorial Board may insist on this step being taken, or request that the local language translation be removed.

    The mirror must be distributed by a virtual host whose Internet address must be agreed with the CABRI TC. In general, it will be defined within the cabri.org domain and will either reflect the country of the institute that is doing the mirroring or the institute itself.

    The site will have to be continually available on the Internet. Tests will be carried out to check it and faulty mirrors will be excluded.

    A local mirror manager must be identified and named to the CABRI TC. The mirror manager will receive all the rights that are needed to access the main site and will be responsible for all the security related issues. He/she will be added to the cabri-mirrors mailing list (a list devoted to the co-ordination of mirroring activities) and will be responsible for all the needed updates (both software and data).

    Software and hardware specifications can vary during time. A technical annex has been defined and will be updated as needed. No hardware specifications are currently defined.

    A copy of all the necessary software will be made available by the CABRI sites.

    8. Further Information

Information can be obtained from any member collection, or from the CABRI web site www.cabri.org or from the CABRI Secretariat (Bill Hominick, hominicks@ntlworld.com).

Guidelines prepared for CABRI by ASFRA, DSMZ, CBS, BCCM, INRC, CERDIC
Page Layout CERDIC
Copyright CABRI, 1999