Genus Level ID as Research Grade

Hi iNat Forum,

I noticed recently that some genus level IDs were classified as Research Grade, but most are not, even in cases where the genus is obviously correct, and 4 or 5 users have agreed on it. Could someone please tell me the criteria for having a Genus level ID classified as RG? Does it relate to whether or not a species is undescribed?

Thanks for your help.


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In cases where RG has been reached at a genus level, it means the ‘no, it’s as good as it can be’ box has been ticked:


This feature is often used for genera which cannot be identified to species from photos alone, e.g. genera that require genital dissection


related to this - I´m noticing in diptera for example, where this is common, very few (if any) people tick the good as it can be box - including identifiers with high counts

it seems a shame, as for a lot of genera there are 100+ genus level observations which aren’t being used for the CV model
and aren’t passing to GBIF

could this not be automatically initiated in some way as it is for species level RG?

if the concern is that it could be more refined, it could be initiated under different circumstances…
…after its been on system for certain amount of time
…or there could be a prompt for people when identifying to genus level to ask if it can go further
…or it could be automated for certain flagged species e.g. sarcophaga

…or there could simply be a different level assigned e.g. Genus Level Research Grade


This seems like an interesting idea, though I’m sure it will cause a lot of debate on the proper phrasing and usage. Just look at how contentious (and how frequently misused!) the “disagree” prompt is.


There should be more of this for fungi that can be identified to the species level only by microscopic examination of spores (e.g. a number of species in the genera Sarcoscypha and Chlorociboria).

yes, I can see problems with this :)
+I have issues with that prompt too.

I guess the developers could also just choose to include genus level observations in the training data in situations where 100+ species level observations do not exist… this would avoid site politics.

taxa included in the training set must have at least 100 observations, at least 50 of which must have a community ID.

From here. They don’t need to have 100 species-level or Research Grade observations.


ahh! interesting.
Ok, not sure where i got that from.
It just says a community ID also - so does that mean RG not necessary?
…So 50 x non RG, 2/3rds agreed, genus level IDs would already count ?

I’m so glad I ran across this thread, as it relates to a problem I’ve been having while using iNat to track this year’s periodical cicada emergences. Very often, users will post photos of cicadas taken from directly above the insect, which are easily identified to genus…but unless they have a photo of the side or underside, species ID is impossible. Not just difficult; impossible. From a research point of view, in terms of tracking the distribution and timing of emergences (which is mostly what we do), species ID is irrelevant.

I, too, have problems with the wording of the “emphatic disagree,” especially when there is a possibility that a suggested ID is correct, but there’s no way to confirm that from the photo.

However, I feel a bit arrogant checking the “as good as it can be” box…though I suppose it’s not that different from adding a confirming ID that makes an observation Research Grade. I guess what I’m getting at is, is this good iNat etiquette?


Yes, it definitely requires some expertise to know whether the ID can be improved or not. If you know it can’t be, then please check the box. :)


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