Citation of authorities

Mary Barkworth stipoid at CC.USU.EDU
Tue Nov 5 07:21:24 CST 1996

The list of references that occurs (usually) at the end of a scientifica
articale contained references to works that have been read and examined by
one or more of the authors of a paper.  Authors, even taxonomists, usually
do not read the articles containing the scientific names used in the
article, let alone examine the type specimen involved, thus it would be
inappropriate to include such references in the list at the back
(revisionary taxonomic papers are an exception).  As Garnock-Jones and Webb
argue (Taxon 45:285-286), citation of authorities is no assurance that the
name being used for the plant being referred to.  It probably shows little
more than that the authors of the article can copy words.  Voucher specimens
are far more important (but more time consuming to prepare).

I would agree with the suggestion that I read on the Web - but negelected to
note the author - that in most instances, it is far more pertinent for the
author to cite the name of the flora(s) or other papers that were used in
identifying the plants worked with.  Even this may be a second hand
reference (for common plants that "everyone knows).  With the move toward
databasing collections, this suggestion becomes particularly pertinent.
Records of Stipa occidentalis identified using C.L. Hitchcock's treatment in
the FLora of the Pacific Northwest will include records of plants that A.S.
Hitchcock would have placed in several different species.  One cannot
determine which of A.S. Hitchcock's taxa such records refer to without
examining the specimen, but it would help to know which reference was used.
And, putting my money where my mouth is, there is now a field on our label
program for noting this information and, when we have overcome some
technical difficulties, there will be a field for such information in the
database at UTC.

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

More information about the Taxacom mailing list