validity of taxonomic publication

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Wed Feb 19 14:34:03 CST 1997

At 02:51 PM 02-19-97 EST, John McNeill wrote:
>Many botanists have no more taste for
>having names published in theses, but given the nature of modern
>technology and the emphasis in the Botanical Code on clear,
>universally applicable rules, the present _de facto_ situation in
>Botany treats most theses as effectively published.
>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manuscripts, type-scripts or other unpublished material".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".
>The impossibility to-day of ensuring wide publication in terms of
>technological criteria (e.g. "printing" as against "typing" as would
>have applied in my graduate student days) is one reason for the move
>towards "registration" of plant names (see Art. 32.1 & 32.2) -
>ensuring that all new names are made available through a registration
>centre - this is already done for all bacteriological names which must
>be listed (if not primarily published) in the International Journal of
>Systematic Bacteriology.
>Criteria for publication are dealt with in Article 5 of the Draft
>BioCode (see and suggests
>permitting electronic media so long as "several identical, durable and
>unalterable copies" are "generally accesible".
>As drafted, this would include printed and distributed theses, but any
>publication could be excluded from establishing names by a disclaimer
>to the effect that "names or nomenclatural acts in it are not to be
>considered for nomenclatural purposes" (Draft BioCode Art. 8.4).  The
>ICZN has a similar provision in Art. 8 (b).  My personal view is that
>anything that meets the "several identical, durable and unalterable
>copies" criteria, theses, abstracts, whatever, should be accepted as
>"published" - and those types of work that are of a "provisional"
>nature (e.g. a first draft distributed to colleagues, or an undefended
>theses) can be held back from publication by means of a disclaimer.

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.

I will agree that registration of new names will do much to solve this
problem. I would urge that the registration authority also be empowered to
provide copies of the protologues of any name registered.  Knowing where
something is published is of little use if you can't lay hands on a copy.

Thomas G. Lammers
Department of Botany                     Classification, Nomenclature,
Field Museum of Natural History          Phylogeny and Biogeography
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive       of the Campanulaceae
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:     lammers at
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317
fax:        312-427-2530

"... what could possibly be easier or more beautiful than 'Campanula'?  What
affectation more gratuitous and silly than 'bell-flower'?"  -- R. Farrer

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