dissertation dates

Robert Mill R.Mill at RBGE.ORG.UK
Wed Nov 22 18:03:33 CST 1995

Effective "Publication" of a dissertation depends on the rules
prevailing in the country of origin. All British Ph.D. theses are
classified as unpublished documents, as only three or four copies are
ever produced (2 for the institution, one for the student and
optionally one for the supervisor). Whenever I cite my own thesis, I
therefore do it thus: "Mill, R.R. 1979. [Title of thesis].
Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of St. Andrews." - where "1979"
is the date on the title page which corresponds to the date of
presentation (Aug 1979). (The actual degree was awarded in Nov 1979).
I suspect that what happened in the enquirer's case is that the
thesis was submitted in 1989 and the degree awarded in 1990; I would
cite it as 1989.

On the continent (of Europe) the rules are different; more copies of
a thesis are produced and the dissertation is frequently offered for
sale by specialist publishers e.g. Cramer, Koeltz. The date of
publication is then the date the copies were offered for sale, which
any decent taxonomic publisher SHOULD indicate (those who don't please

Any new taxa in a British botanical thesis are nomina nuda as the
thesis is not deemed effectively published under the rules of the
ICBN.  I imagine a similar rule applies in the zoological Code.
Hence it is essential for people to get their novelties published, in
a journal or whatever, a.s.a.p. after the degree has been awarded
otherwise they will languish forever and there is a danger that
someone else may even take up the names after borrowing/consulting
the thesis.

Robert Mill

      (Dr) ROBERT R MILL
      Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
      20a Inverleith Row, EDINBURGH EH3 5LR, SCOTLAND, U.K.

      Electronic Mail:   R.Mill at rbge.org.uk OR robert at rbge.org.uk
      Telephone:         + 44 131 552 7171 exts. 240 or 449
      Facsimile:         + 44 131 552 0382


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