Luis Diego Gomez
ldgomez at HORTUS.OTS.AC.CR
Tue Apr 25 14:58:54 CDT 2000
Before we go into panic or suggest changes to the wording of any Articles
in the ICBN let us consider the following:
to publish means by the OED or the Code, " to make public" , to make a
printed document available to the public, whatever the method of printing
may be (Gutenberg hand set press or cyber laser printer). Obviously,
production of a single copy does not qualify as a "publication" more so
than a "manuscript on file" does.
It is obvious, to me at least, that new names or combinations "published"
by whatever means in a single copy will not be validly published names in
as much as they will not be "made available to the public" other than the
author. We must also understand, implicitly, that "public" does not refer
to just anybody out there but the scientific community and/or learned
The example of the pet trade magazines where revisions or new species are
sometimes published is a good one. In Botany, one sees often names of new
taxa published in, say, orchid magazines, journals of plant societies e.g.
Principes for palms, bromeliads, etc. mixed with travel accounts and
horticultural aspects of the trade.
Peer review, although highly recommended, does not guarantee of necessity
"good taxonomy" . However, it may be helpful for an author to reconsider
potential new taxa in the light of other experts pronouncing about them.
Unnecessary or "bad" names will always appear in the literature regardless
of the method of publication. There is little one can do about that beyond
the editorial advise given by journals with a sound publication policy.
One possible good thing about the new technology that triggered this
exchange of opinions may be the reduced cost of producing scientific
literature, too expensive now as we all know. As in other aspects of the
natural sciences, such as conservation of biodiversity, we must keep up the
hope that the new capabilities available will be put to good use by
scrupulous scientists, too.
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