On demand printing, a nomenclatural problem for botany

B. J. Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Wed Apr 26 08:51:47 CDT 2000

The Bacteriological Code states, under:
Rule 25a
Effective publication is effected under this Code by making generally
available, by sale or distribution, to the scientific community, printed
material for the purpose of providing a permanent record.

Rule 25b
No other kind of publication than that cited in Rule 25a is accepted as
effective, nor are the following.
(1)     Communication of new names at a meeting, in minutes of a meeting, or;
after 1950, in abstracts of papers presented at meetings.
(2)     Placing of names on specimens in collections or in listings or
catalogues of collections.
(8)     Distribution of microfilm, microcards, or matter reproduced by similar
(4)     Reports in ephemeral publications, newsletters, newspapers after 1900,
or nonscientific periodicals.
(5)     Inclusion of a name of a new taxon of bacteria in a published patent
application or issued patent.

I would agree with other comments about peer review not necessarily being a
guarantee of "quality". Also the concept of "registration" (which
bacteriology already uses) is designed to primarily keep track of names
which can be used. While the system could filter out those names which do
not meet the requirements of various Codes it may not prevent
"registration" of a name which is accompanied by data which is later shown
to be in error. Names in bacteriology are "registered" via one journal
which is available hard copy and on-line (we already have a debate about
on-line only). The significance of "registration" becomes apparent when you
start trying to trace all names which have standing in bacteriological
nomenclature, together with their authors and synonyms (okay there are
holes, but nobody is perfect)- but that is another topic.
Strictly speaking I see little difference between a small publisher
printing copies of books "as wanted" and a large publisher doing print runs
of several thousand copies, if both will eventually cover the same sales
spectrum. The problem is less a matter of how something is printed, rather
the contents of what is in print. One of the most important points is that
a publication should be available for future generations. At present we
already have the problem of changing electronic format, which does not
guarantee that older formats of a particular file can be read correctly by
newer version of the programme.
It is already possible to approach a publisher to print a new journal or a
book. If one can print as required from an appropriate program, then there
is also less risk for a larger publisher - the major difference is the
Bacteriology has already had to deal with the inclusion of sequence data,
which is almost exclusively deposited in electronic format in 3
international databases, so the "problem" has already arisen in connection
with making data available. Perhaps we should be less concerned with
whether a book is hand written by a team of monks, or whether one of us is
producing it in the garden shed by modern technology, the most important
points are:
a) availability of the publication
b) the accuracy of the data
c) the ability to reproduce or check what is printed
d) the availability of type material where appropriate


* Dr.B.J.Tindall      E-MAIL bti at dsmz.de                           *
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