validity of taxonomic publication

Paul J. Johnson elater at BROOKINGS.NET
Wed Feb 19 12:33:18 CST 1997

On 19 Feb 97 at 15:43, Wolfgang Wuster wrote:

> On Wed, 19 Feb 1997, Peter Schuchert wrote:
> > Is a PhD thesis a valid taxonomic publication (for animals)?
> > I would say it is not, but other collegues disagree.

> An unpublished PhD thesis is not a valid publication.  Article 9(11) of
> the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature specifically excludes
> "deposit of a document (e.g., a thesis) in a collection of documents, a
> library, or other archive".

Life in this little is a bit more complicated.  In the United States is
a document service, University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, that
has conned our universities and colleges into having all doctoral and
many M.S. theses "published."  The student is required to pay all
charges and in exchange has the dubious privilage of having their
document copyrighted for them, though it is actually in the name of UM.
In fact, UM sells copies of each thesis, and in a practical sense royalities
do not go to most authors because of the low
volume of sales of most theses.  Indeed, according to the Zoological Code
nomenclatural acts done within a thesis are not valid and the UM
"publication" system does not qualify.  However, this restriction only
applies to only to nomenclatural acts, such as new names, synonymies, etc.  All
other data is available and the question of published or not must be
reconsidered.  For example, distributional records, ecological
measures, and other non-nomenclatural information can be considered
      In my familiarity, there has not been adequate discussion and
community-wide decision in the zoological sciences as to whether
non-nomenclatural information in a thesis is acceptably published, or
under what constraints.  However, UM considers their process as
publication, and many professional categories do consider UM
publication as valid.  I'm not positive on my recollection, but did not
the latest botanical code completely discount thesis information as
published, or was this only nomenclatural data?

Paul J. Johnson
Assist. Prof. & Curator
Insect Research Collection
South Dakota State University
(office): px53 at
(home): elater at
"Much of our usual appreciation of an animal
-- in any condition --
depends on our ability to identify and name it.
For flattened fauna, however, that can be a problem."
               R.M. Knutson (1987), "Flattened Fauna."

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