Genus as the species

Stuart G. Poss sgposs at SEAHORSE.IMS.USM.EDU
Fri Apr 9 17:30:03 CDT 1999

Why is a disguise necessary?  Perhaps the perception of prestige is
being wrongly conveyed by a poorly informed audience.  Perhaps the
errors are unintentional and if the editors could be suitably informed,
the problem can be corrected.  Lets speak in specifics, if this thread
is to be useful, particularly to students.

If they really are this sloppy as a matter of routine, one has a
professional obligation to warn others.  Publications that adopt
standards that do not rise above the level of junk science should be
avoided, since propagation of errors can lead to very costly mistakes.
Of course, even the best of journals contain such errors at times.

In fairness, however, if the genus is monotypic or if it is clear from
the publication that one particular species of a genus is the sole
species being referred to, in principle there is no ambiguity.

Geoff Read wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> A reasonably prestigious journal, disguised here as  the Journal of
> Abstruse Marine Experiments, allows its authors to refer to species by their
> generic name alone. In the  example paper I have in mind there are many
> tens of species within the genera other than the ones experimented upon. I
> have to say that within context of this paper there was no confusion
> created, the binomials were given a couple of times, and that it read quite
> well. However,  I personally draw the line at a sloppy sentence like "Unlike
> the other two species, [genus name] showed no significant responses ...".
> My objection is  that  the genus name is not one species, but a collective
> term for a large group of them, and the reponse of the rest is unknown and
> may be quite different from the one experimented upon.
> Is this journal editor atypical? Would you as referee approve an abstract
> with this sentence: "We observed differences among the three species ...
> although significant changes ... only occurred in [genus name] and [genus
> name]."?
> --
>   Geoff Read < at>

Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at
Senior Research Scientist & Curator  Tel: (228)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (228)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000

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