restrictions on publication

Wed Feb 26 06:37:38 CST 1997

I do not know whether this is true or not, but according to
what someone told me, during the 19th Century Asa Gray
at Harvard proposed that no name of any species of
North American plant should be considered validly
published unless the author attained his (Gray's) prior
approval. Another person told me that during the early 19th
Century, before priority rules became universally
accepted, there was in existance the "Kew Rule." The Kew
Rule stated that if "an important botanist" decided
to change the name of a species or even a genus, the
new name would be accepted. The people at Kew had
the power to decide who was "an important botanist."
   Thus the proposal yesterday that the time has come
to restrict where one can publish new names has some
precedent. The common thread linking this proposal
with the Gray proposal and the Kew Rule is that all
three are designed for the benefit of established,
centralized institutions, taking power away from
lesser-known botanists at less prestigious institutions.
Publication in obscure journals or desktop publications
can be rare and annoying to people at major institutions
like GH or K, but it is fair and democratic. While I support
efforts to create databases (printed or electronic) alerting
researchers to the existance and location of new names, I
would frown upon any attempt to restrict the venues
in which these names can be published. This is elitist
and undemocratic.

Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere, 4717 E First St., Tucson AZ 85711 USA
JosephL at

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