Electronic publication

richard a fagerlund fagerlun at UNM.EDU
Wed Mar 19 08:13:52 CST 1997

I realize this subject has been thrown around on various lists recently,
although I haven't seen it on the Ent-list.  I think it is timely due to
recent discussions involving dissertations.  I believe, and I will
illustrate my points, that the ICZN does not expressly prohibit electronic
publications and I believe there can be some good reasons to consider them.

Sec.III, art.8 What constitutes a publication.
 1). be reproduced in ink on paper by some method that assures numerous
     identical copies.
<Electronic publication of new taxa would meet this criteria as every
computer has a printer and copies of the description could be printed as
needed.  Now most universities and other publishers, print 500 to a 1000
copies of a paper even though it is of no interest to more than a dozen
or so researchers.  Electronic publication would not only save printing
costs but would be environmentally sound.  Less paper saves trees.>

 2). be issued for the purpose of scientific, public, permanent record.
<Elect. pub. also meets this requirement.  Abstracts could be published
on lists and the main text could be found on a web site where it could be
permanently stored.>

 3). be obtainable by purchase or free distribution.
<Any description published electronically would be instantly and widely
accessible around the world as soon as the send button is pushed.  It
could be saved, copied or forwarded to interested parties.>

 4). not be reproduced or distributed by a forbidden method. (Art. 9)
<See Art. 9>

Art. 9  What does not constitute publication.
 1). distribution by microfilm or microcards, or matter reproduced by similar
<This obviously does not apply>

 2). distribution to colleagues or students of a note; even if printed,
    in    explanation of an accompanying illustration:
<This wouldn't apply either as the description would be saved in a
website for anyones use and couldn't be defined as a note.>

 3). distribution of proof sheets.
<This does not apply>

 4). mention at a scientific meeting or other.
<This does not apply>

 5). labelling of a specimen in a collection.
<This does not apply>

 6). mere deposit of a document in a library.
<This does not apply>

 7. after 1950, anonymous publication.
<This obviously does not apply>

If there is a recent ammendment that I have overlooked I am sure someone
will bring it to my attention.

There are other considerations beside a strict interpertation of the code
that we should explore.  One of the most obvious is peer review.

I have at least six beetle descriptions in my computer waiting for me to
submit them somewhere.  Every one of them has been reviewed by at least five
colleagues.  I always have papers reviewed even before I submit them for
further review.  Self discipline could help eliminate that concern.
Also, as soon as a description (or other work) is published on the
internet it is available for review by everyone that reads it.  Certainly
if anyone suggested a change in an electronic publication, it could be
acted on quickly.  Basically the paper is being reviewed by scores of
interested researchers.  Questions could be asked and answered quickly.

One reason why dissertations are not considered viable publications is
the limited access.  Electronic publication, obviously, would be
accessible worldwide almost instantly.

It would be simpler for libraries to store electronic publications on
websites then create additional shelf space for an ever growing supply of
printed journals.

The conservation of paper is environmentally sound.  Nobody should object
to that.

Electronic publication would be a viable outlet for people unable or not
willing to pay page charges.

I certainly am not suggesting we do away with standard journals.  I am
suggesting electronic publication as a tool not as a substitute.

What are the downsides, if any?  I can't think of any but would certainly
welcome any imput.

I am going to test this procedure.  Next week I will post an abstract of
a new species of beetle on the list.  The main portion of the description
will be posted in a website I will set up this week.  I will then send a
copy of this posting, the website address and a copy of the description
to the editors of the Zoological Record.  I will hold the holotype and
paratypes in my possession until the description is considered valid and
then they will be deposited in a proper museum.  If the description is
deemed no valid for some unknown reason, I will go to Plan B.

I think we as entomologists should be leading the way into the 21st century
by using electronic publications.  I don't think we should be dragged there
kicking and screaming.

Have a nice day.

Richard Fagerlund                    Mail: 993 Orchid SW
University of New Mexico                   Rio Rancho, NM 87124
E-mail: fagerlun at unm.edu            Phone: (505) 896-2524

More information about the Taxacom mailing list