NATURE to save taxonomy!

Steve at Steve at
Mon Jun 10 20:30:28 CDT 2002

The sole purpose of the Nature article WAS to stir things up, nothing more.
Their specific solution was weak as we've all pointed out.  The point was
that the taxonomic community has a fundamental and serious problem and needs
to do something about it rather than sitting around on our hands saying
"it's just too hard" or "our data is too complex" or "let the journal do it,
not the author" or "it won't work because I'm too special" or any one of a
thousand other excuses.

If we want this to happen then we need to make it happen.  How?  Simply
change the ICZN Recommendation to submit copies of papers to Zoo Rec to be a
requirement.  In the bigger picture it adds almost nothing to the process of
describing taxa.  Need money?  If the US taxonomic community approached NSF
as a group (and that's the hardest bit) and said "Can you help us set up a
system for names along the lines of GenBank" I'm sure they would fall over
themselves to help.  But if we sit here on TAXACOM and say "Great idea but
it won't work because of <insert excuse here>" no one will touch us.  Why
did GenBank work?  Because the vast majority of researhers supported it and
use it.  The taxonomic community seldom shows such unity - and we're the
poorer for it in this case.

Steve Shattuck

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