Who's doing identification?

Michael.Chamberland 23274MJC at MSU.EDU
Thu Oct 24 22:00:00 CDT 1996

> From:         Robin Panza <panzar at CLPGH.ORG>
> It's fascinating that lawyers, doctors, and many others get to charge
> consulting fees whenever they're asked for an opinion, yet taxonomists (or a
> field-oriented biologists) are expected to provide their expertise gratis.

Is our plight similar to that of the librarian?

> Many's the time a doctor, asked for a "diagnosis" at a social function, has
> refused to do so.  Why should not natural history experts be protected by th
> same cultural rules?  These environmental firms often get big bucks for thei
> services and come to us on our company's time (not even at a social gatherin
> and expect us to work for them while our institution pays for it, or we do i
> on our own time for free.

The general public seems to think that since their "tax dollars" go to
support taxonomy positions, taxonomists are therefore at thier service
to do identifications, research, or provide information at their personal
request.  Firstly, I'd take issue about the "tax dollars" --I'll bet it's
more like tax cents! Secondly, I think the way to look at this is the
tax monies go to insure that taxonomists and herbaria EXIST.  The business of
divying up the taxonomist's time between research, teaching, and answering
the inquiries from the public or outside companies will depend on the
position's job description and the employer's policies.

Michael Chamberland
Michigan State University Herbarium

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