Index Kewensis and name registration

Mary Barkworth stipoid at CC.USU.EDU
Sat Dec 20 13:27:32 CST 1997

Is this the downside of technology, or are we being asked to pay more for
convenience that was not available before technology?  It is a lot more,
and UTC cannot afford the upgrade, but consider the amount of work that
goes into developing the Index Kewensis, and the resources that are
required to develop it.

Clark laments the fact that those who contribute the data cannot afford to
purchase the Index, but this is inaccurate.  None of the institutions that
are currently compiling lists of names have developed a means by which
those publishing new species or new names can fill out a form that will
slot the information into the correct portions of their databases, mark it
"New entry, to be proof read and verified", and then allow for the Lord
High Poobah of that database to append the record after appropriate
verification.  This means that people at each of the institutions involved
are scouring the literature (which has to be paid for) and entering it into
that institution's database (which had to be developed).  It is a system
that needs improvement, and I would suggest that IAPT should develop a
committee that would look into ways of doing so EXCEPT that it is certainly
not the model I would choose of a professional organization.  I do not know
where to look for its constitution or how its officers are elected, and I
have never seen it publish a budget. Perhaps it really is only every 6
years and only those present at the nomenclature meetings can vote. Is the
committee for the code also the governing body of IAPT? [Oops.  Went to
check TAXON to find out who the officers are -they are not stated - take a
look at the footnote on P. 811 and found more.  See last paragraph]

There have been complaints on TAXACOM about taxonomists not being paid for
the value of their work, but now we are objecting to paying for the effort
that goes into producing a reference tool that has a small market (I think
that profits from the Index, if any, now go to K, a taxonomic institution,
not to the UK government, which is a step forward). I am not claiming to be
holier than thou.  Several years ago I decided that UTC could not justify a
subscription to the Gray Card Index because the saving would more than pay
for the number of long distance telephone calls that we would need to make
to obtain the information that we needed from the fiche.  I assumed that
someone, but not UTC, would pay for continuing the development of the index
and that my inquiries would be answered (they were). I am not sure who does
pay for development of the Gray Index, but I am glad that someone does (it,
like Tropicos, is available on line for free).

Having said which, I would bet that a lower cost for Index Kewensis would
result in more sales possibly a higher profit, but I can make such a bet
without having to live with the consequences of being wrong.  How much are
people prepared to pay for a specialized reference that takes up more than
2 ft on the bookshelf?  And how much for upgrades?  We have the first CD
ROM edition (it came out in the last year that the department had surplus
money at the end of the fiscal year).  I would have swallowed a $200
upgrade cost, perhaps $500, but that is my limit given the budget at UTC
and the increasing reality of the existence of on-line sources (the on line
versions of Tropicos and the Gray Index are not yet as comprehensive as the
Kew index).

The November issue of TAXON outlines a voluntary procedure for registering
taxonomic novelties.  Good idea in principle, but my first reaction to the
article was "Good grief, bureaucracy incarnate".  Journals have to be
registered and sign an agreement with IAPT. Why??  If the information has
to be sent in to somewhere, why not make taxonomists responsible for doing
so?  Why should there be greater restrictions on the journals in which such
novelties are published than there are now?  On the plus side, the
information will be made available "as soon as feasible" by placing it on
the WEB, biannual non-cumulative lists, and "hopefully" cumulative updates
on a CD-ROM.  No mention is made of cost, but someone has to pay.  Nor is
any mention made of how previously accounted names are being accounted for.
 Is yet another group entering the data in another database? Will they
share the data automatically and freely with other projects that have been
around for some time?  People are asked to help spread the word about the
implementation of the voluntary registration system and encourage its use.
Did I miss it on TAXACOM?  My comment: Good idea, but SIMPLIFY IT.

And I will keep the next message short.

Mary Barkworth, Intermountain Herbarium
Department of Biology, Utah State University,
Logan, Utah 84322-5305
Voice: 435-797-1584
FAX: 435-797-1575

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