Publication when public policy makes specimens unavailable

Ron at Ron at
Thu Jun 7 20:28:32 CDT 2001


My votes - comments below.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Barry Roth" <barry_roth at YAHOO.COM>
To: <TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG>
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 7:42 PM
Subject: Publication when public policy makes specimens unavailable


> Taxacomers,
>
> I happen to be the editor of a journal specializing in mollusks.  The
journal's policy is quite rigorous about the deposit of voucher specimens
for various kinds of studies, along lines discussed on this list in the
past.  Journal policy also insists that at least representative specimens
for Recent or fossil faunal lists be deposited in publicly accessible
collections, where they will be available for examination by interested
workers.  To me, this represents nothing more than accountability -- in
effect, making the experiment (of identifying a fauna's component taxa and
drawing conclusions therefrom) replicable.
>
> Recently a manuscript was submitted that did not specify a repository for
the fossil samples that it reported.  On inquiry to the author, I learned
that the specimens were collected in an administrative unit (a county in
southern California) that will not let specimens be deposited in
institutions outside the county.  However, according to the author, there
is no institution to curate the collections within that county; and at
present all such collections are being sent to a warehouse where they are
not cared for (and reportedly some have been destroyed by neglect).
>
> What do list members think about the following propositions:
>
> (1)  In the interest of unfettered scientific publication, in a case like
this a journal should relax its standards regarding deposited specimens,
hoping that at some future time a satisfactory repository can be found.

----NO

>
> (2)  A journal should adhere to its standards, and the county policy
makers should be informed that their stance is inhibiting the scientific
publication of findings based on specimens from their jurisdiction.

----YES

>
> (3)  Some combination of the above ... or a middle ground (e.g.,
representative specimens should be illustrated for all taxa).

---I would get a good lawyer and sue for: wrongful interference with
scientific research and destruction by negligence of same on the public's
behalf.  Get an injunction from State or Federal court to halt this
"confiscation" of scientific materials that are in the public domain and
national interest, with a court ordered removal of all such materials to a
CA state University or other institution with facilities capable of
preserving these items until the County can demonstrate its ability, by a
documented plan and asset provision, to facilitate such care as these
scientific treasures require. Request that the law is invalid as the county
has not taken any adequate steps to provide care. This is like the County
saying it requires all children to eat lunch at the Counties schools and
then provide no facilities or food. Government can not pass ordinances and
laws without also taking the proper measures to adequately comply with
their own intrinsic responsibility in regard to those ordinances and laws.

GEEE!  A lawyer ought to be able to come up with stuff a lot better than
this. I would think there are environmental, educational, political groups
that would chip on or underwrite a legal action to end this absurd
situation.

Ron




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