electronic publication

Andrey Sharkov Sharkov.1 at OSU.EDU
Tue Mar 25 15:57:29 CST 1997


I have followed the discussion about electronic publication, and finally
decided to share with you my ideas about that subject.

First of all, I think that any attempt to prove that EP of new taxa conforms
with the provisions of the ICZN can not be justified simply because in 1985,
when the code was adapted, the WWW and CD-ROMs did not exist, and nobody
could forsee their appearance. Therefore, the provisions of the Code may not
be applied to electronic publication, because it was not considered by the
Commission.

Also, Recommendation 8A clearly states, that "authors are strongly urged to
ensure that a new scientific name or nomenclatural act if first published in
a work produced by conventional printing..."

I hope that even if the new edition of the Code allows the electronic
publication (I have not read the final draft yet), this recommendation will
be kept in it and considered by the authors.

As to the argument about whether somebody will or will not transfer the
digital data every time when the technology changes, I would like to point
that the information printed on paper simply DOES NOT NEED to be
transferred. And I think, that any extra step or action that is required for
the information to remain available, increases the probability that it will
be lost sooner or later. Considering the number of transfers that will need
to be done if the technology continues to develop at today's rate, such
probability is very high.

I also would like to comment on the statement by Hannu Saarenmaa that "the
benefits of such a system [electronic publication - A.S.] would include:
- equality: access to information by remote and less advantageous
countries"

Did anybody think why 99% of the participants in this discussion are form
the United States or Western Europe. May be scientists form other parts of
the world have no opinion on that subject, or they do not do any taxonomic
work and do not care, is EP accepted or not? I don think so. I think that
most of them have no idea that we even discuss it here, because they do not
have an Internet access. Some of them also do not have a computer.

Finally, I do not understand why everybody wants so much to publish NEW
NAMES electronically? There is plenty of information that does not affect
the nomenclature and can be published on WWW.
The ICZN has an object "to promote STABILITY and universality in the
scientific names of animals...". I think, that every taxonomist should keep
in mind that his/her actions must serve that goal, too. Any possibility of
an action to decrease the stability of the nomenclature should be considered
against that action. The need of periodical transfer of electronic
information from one media to another, increases the possibility of its
loss, and, therefore, decreases the stability of the nomenclature, if that
informations affects it.

 I think, however, that making taxonomic papers available electronically
AFTER they were published by a conventional printing (providing that the
copyright issues are resolved) will greatly increase the access to the
information, and this should be done whenever is possible. The electronic
version should contain a reference to the journal where the paper was
printed originally, and can be supplemented by color pictures, movies, etc.
(I did this with my last paper with a revision of the encyrtid genus
Mucrencyrtus, that can be viewed in HTML format at
http://iris.biosci.ohio-state.edu/projects/mucrencyrtus/muctext.html)

Andrey Sharkov
************************************************************
Andrey Sharkov
Associate Curator                     Phone: (614) 292-2730
Department of Entomology        FAX: (614) 292-7774
Museum of Biodiversity             INTERNET:  Sharkov.1 at osu.edu
The Ohio State University
1315 Kinnear Rd.
Columbus, OH 43212
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