Identification Fees

Mary Barkworth stipoid at CC.USU.EDU
Sat Nov 30 16:19:44 CST 1996

A few months ago, I asked one of the local botanical consultants (private)
whose taxonomic ability I respect how much he would charge for an
identification.  He suggested $30-35.  That would be for vascular plants.
People that can identify mosses are much harder to come by, so $50 per hour
seems perfectly reasonable; in fact, one could argue it is an absolute
bargain if the identifications are critical.

As for whether one can charge: the answer obviously varies from one
institution to another.  As an employee of Agriculture Canada I was told
that I could not charge for any botanical information I provided, ever.  It
would be a conflict of interest or breach of public trust, or both.  I
forget which, but the message was clear.  No personal payment and the
department did not charge for identifications.

U.S. universities create a somewhat different situation, paying many of
their staff (including faculty) members only for 9 months and telling them
to use initiative in obtaining pay for the other three months.  I suspect a
high proportion of people in this category would find it hard to state which
3 months they do not work at all for their employer [there is no provision
for annual leave unless one is on a 12 month contract].  This would mean one
would not not prepare lectures for the coming year, gather material
together, collect plants for use in teaching taxonomy, etc.

It is generally assumed that the 3 months covers the summer, but there is no
reason why it should be taken this way and, so far as I am aware, the
universities could care less.  We can even take consulting leave during the
year, subject to permission from our administrators.  There is a limit to
the number of days one can take, but I think it is what I would consider
generous.  From rumblings during the last few years (extra emphasis on prior
notification etc.), I suspect that legislators are complaining about this
practice, but I was told that without such an option, most universities
could not hope to employ engineers or medical doctors.  In our own
department, environmental health would not be possible if the individuals
were prevented from acting as consultants, our BS graduates in that area
earn more than beginning faculty in soe areas.  Conclusion, in moderation,
it would, in my opinion, be difficult to say no consulting to people
employed for less than 12 months.  I do see a problem for those employed for
12 months, but it really is no different from taking a second job, or
offering a course at one of the off-campus centers - a permitted form of
overload here.

We do have an agreement with the department accountant that money for
services coming in to the herbarium be kept in a separate sub-account, to be
used at the discrection of the director (me at present).  With the current
department head, the system works well.  I check the amount every now and
again; this can be attributed to cynicism or short term memory loss, I
really do not care which.  This would make accepting payment much easier,
because it does not benefit me directly - but I do get to choose whether to
put the money into field work, book purchases, or software or ....  And I do
not pay taxes on the money received.  So, get a cooperative department head
- then keep tabs on the account.

Mary Barkworth
Intermountain Herbarium
Utah State University
Logan, Utah 84322-5305

More information about the Taxacom mailing list