validity of taxonomic publication

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Wed Feb 19 17:00:50 CST 1997

In reply to my comments on effective pubication under the Botanical
Code, Thomas G. Lammers wrote:

>It appears that we interpret ICBN Art. 29.1 differently.  I have
>interpreted the microfilm clause to include any products of the
>microfilm.  It seems to me that on-demand production of a single copy
>of a microfilmed work is fundamentally different from a press run and
>commercial distribution of a work.  Perhaps Priniple 10, the
>"established custom" clause can be invoked.  As stated, botanists
>have almost universally regarded thesis as not effectively published.

In making my comments, I was being much more general than the specific
issue of University Microfilms.  Perhaps because Univerity Microfilms
have agreements with only a small number of Canadian universities, it
is not uncommon for students to have a number of copies of their
thesis produced (and photoreprography from a high-quality laser
printer is indistinguishable from the form of printing used by most
journals) in order to give them to those who have assisted in the
work, including, in some cases, institutions from which specimens were
borrowed or at which work was done.  Certainly when I was at DAO, we
received one or two such for the Library; these would, ipso facto,
also be in the University Library of the degree-awarding institution -
and perhaps elsewhere.

The early University Microfilms productions, of which I bought a few,
were manifestly NOT "printed" - being reproduced from typescript - and
it is perfectly reasonable to argue that these can be discounted under
Art. 29.1.  I have not seen recent ones, but I wonder if they are in
any way distinguishable from other inexpensively produced publications
- e.g.  Phytologia, Novon etc.  I agree that, in general, botanists do
not consider theses, as generally prepared in the English-speaking
world, as media for effective publication.  My point was that
advancing technology leaves little objective basis for this position,
absent a disclaimer on the work itself.

I think we differ less in basic interpretation of Art. 29.1 than in my
concluding that what that Article once achieved is no longer possible
with advanced technology.

John McNeill

From: John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum,
      100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
      Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744  e-mail: johnm at

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