unionization and charges

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Fri Feb 20 10:56:51 CST 1998

Robin Panza wrote:

>I have two problems with Yanega's suggestions:
>I'm not comfortable with an elitist organization, where some select few get to
>decide who will be allowed to enter.

I'll try one more clarification - I'm talking about accepting manuscripts
from members only, but the members only need to *submit* the manuscript,
not author it - as is presently done for PNAS. That would seem to me to
help avoid the "elitist" claims; ANYONE can publish with the union's
approval, so long as just *one* member thinks their work is credible.
Personality conflicts are unlikely to represent a real barrier in such a
case. After a non-member has had a number of publications sponsored in such
a way, it is likely they would be granted membership, anyway. Another
obvious way to be granted membership is as an integral part of one's
post-graduate training.
        I don't think this *has* to be construed as elitist in a negative
sense. As others have pointed out, if lawyers and doctors and engineers are
considered elite groups, certainly we have as much right (or more) to claim
similar status. In a sense, and *if* our skills were properly valued, we
would have just as much right to be outraged at finding someone
self-publishing invalid species descriptions as doctors would at someone
practicing surgery in their basement.
        Just imagine what would we do if, tomorrow, some book like
"Birds/Fungi/Flowers/Whatever of the World" showed up in the bookstores,
and the author had taken a few million dollars in donations to coin
hundreds of new names (and had deposited holotypes in a private collection
to which they denied access). By our present codes, we'd have to publish
(at our own expense!)            manuscripts establishing all of the
synonymies involved. Then, of course, would come all the lawsuits ("You
can't declare a synonymy unless you've seen my holotypes!"). It hasn't
happened yet, and is probably unlikely, but it *could* happen (my money
would be on butterflies for the first candidate taxon). Such a scenario is
impossible, however, if a union exists. If folks don't like the idea of a
union, let's hear some other ideas. If everyone is convinced that this is a
non-problem, will never occur, and that we will never need to resort to
selling patronyms to support our work, then fine - but already people *are*
selling patronyms, so maybe it isn't so far-fetched for us to worry about
the possible corollaries?

> I would **far** rather see a committee that decides
>validity (which still has serious problems) than one that decides membership.

As far as publication goes, this is what would be decided, in essence -
membership itself would only confer automatic (though provisional)
acceptance of manuscripts, and allow one to charge fees for services.

>Charging for IDs, like charging for data, have some disparities.

I agree, but this doesn't mean a fair system couldn't be worked out, surely.

>I'm not saying I oppose Doug's ideas, just that I'm not convinced they're
>the most appropriate pro-action.

I'm not either!! At this point, it's still just a tentative suggestion as
to what might help prevent a problem which doesn't even exist yet (but
could, in the near future). I certainly don't think I've hit upon THE
magical solution to all possible problems, and I'd love to hear others'
ideas, too.
[I'll be off-line for the next 5 days, though, so further comments to/from
me will have to wait until I return]


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-449-2579, fax: 031-441-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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