validity of taxonomic publication

Melissa C. Winans mcwinans at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Fri Feb 21 17:43:05 CST 1997

At 02:51 PM 2/19/97 EST, John McNeill wrote:
> . . . .  Surely, if a printed thesis is a
>"document", so is each issue of a scientific journal, and such
>"documents" are all deposited in libraries - ergo, publication in,
>say, the Canadian Entomologist, is as much ruled out by Art. 9 (11) as
>are published theses, clearly an absurd situation.  Maybe Philip Tubb
>or Alessandro Minelli can enlighten me as to why one is a document and
>the other is not?
> . . .
>The key Article is Art. 29.1:
>"Publication is effected, under this _Code_, only by distribution of
>printed matter (through sale, exchange or gift) to the general public
>or at least to botanical institutions with libraries accessible to
>botanists generally.   It is not effected by communication of new
>names at a public meeting, by the placing of names in collections or
>gardens open to the public, or by the issue of microfilm made from
>manuscripts, type-scripts or other unpublished material".
>Apart from Article 30, which deals with a few specific issues, largely
>of the past, that is the rule.
>What this means is that, whereas electronic media are ruled out,
>anything that is "printed" (and that has to include laser-printed, and
>indistinguishable offset therefrom) and distributed to at least two
>botanical libraries (note the plural "libraries" in the Article) is
>effectively published.  Therefore, nowadays, virtually every graduate
>thesis is effectively published under the terms of this Article - so
>long as the thesis is [laser -]printed and deposited in more than one
>library "accessible to botanists generally".

Although the language of Art. 29.1 could indeed be interpreted as John
McNeill suggests, I question whether that was in fact the writers intention.
When I was working for the Bibliography of Fossil Vertebrates we interpreted
the similar language of the ICZN as meaning that to qualify as "published" a
document must be **widely disseminated**, so that the majority of workers in
the field will have easy access to the information.  The average journal is
distributed to many thousands of individual libraries and subscribers, while
a thesis generally is distributed only to members of the student's
committee, one or two libraries on the campus of the university where it was
written, and possibly to a few friends and colleagues.  This makes it
unlikely that members of the scientific community at large will be aware of
a thesis's existence.

> . . . what about the theses submitted to many
>Universities on the continent of Europe, which are required to be
>printed and published (often in a journal) as a part of the thesis
>defence/defense process.  Are these also proscribed under Art. 9 (11)?

I very much doubt that this would make any difference to the publication
status of the thesis itself, but the resulting journal
article/memoir/whatever certainly would count as published.
Melissa C. Winans, Collection Manager (mcwinans at
Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory      Phone: 512-471-6087
J.J. Pickle Research Campus               Fax: 512-471-5973
University of Texas, 10100 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758

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