On demand printing, a nomenclatural problem for botany (and eveybody else too)

Julian Humphries jmhbs at UNO.EDU
Wed Apr 26 10:56:53 CDT 2000

At 10:09 AM 26-04-00 -0400, Jose H. Leal wrote:
>nature of biomedical, technological, etc., stuff). Nonetheless, the fourth
>edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999,
>effective from 1 January 2000), somewhat too briefly, rules (Article 8.8.6)
>that "For a work produced after 1999 by a method other than printing on
>paper to be accepted as published within the meaning of the Code, it must

But on demand printing is printing on paper.  I think the problems/issues
here are far more insidious than most of us realize.  I would predict that
those journals controlled by the big commercial publishing houses (who are
consolidating all the time)  will move towards a format where you or your
library will only print copies of individual journal articles "on demand"
to any journal that the library or you subscribed to. Paper copies might
exist, but I bet my library will save the $$ and space and choose as needed
versions.  Will all the copies be "identical?"  Even ignoring the ability
to edit the source material (which will likely remain on the publisher's
server), different levels of techology (color, dpi, ink) will produce
different looking copies of the article.  If your subject matter is arcane,
there may never be 25 copies printed.

I believe systematists have their head in the sand as to the likelihood
that anybody (other than our societies) in the publishing business cares
about our specific requirements.  While publishers are likely to track
versions of a document, they will have no qualms about allowing an author
to make a correction to the master copy.  What does that do to citation and
synonymy?  Who will know what corrections are associated with which version?

The problem for systematists goes well beyond junk names, but to the
details of how we formulate and track nomenclature.  Those rules simply
aren't up to the forthcoming (or current) continuum between paper and
digital publication.   There are a myriad of distribution models possible
within the publishing world.  Our desires for permanence and clarity of
authorship/date are admirable.  However, we clearly lack the infrastructure
to assure those desires will be met.   And I suspect we lack to
socialogical willingness to change the way we publish our science, even if
the infrastructure were free and in place.

Julian Humphries

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