Lee letter in Nature

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Fri Jun 21 07:52:51 CDT 2002


Respond to Nature if you want, but as we here at TAXACOM have learn for its
own editor, Nature doesn't really care what taxonomists think.

The problem you highlight is a 1) mis-reading of Art. 8.6 and 2) a trick

1) Art. 8.6 reads: WORKS produced after 1999 by a method that does not
employ printing on paper. ... to be accepted as published ... it [the work]
must contain a statement that copies (in the FORM IN WHICH IT IS PUBLISHED)
have been deposited in at least 5 major publicly accessible libraries which
are identified by name in the work itself. I have highlighted one critical
as that means in this sense, the HTML page (or pdf file) would have to be

A couple of points:

A work must conform to the requirements of Art. 8.1 (Criteria to be met)
and not be excluded by Art. 9.

So, 1) anything posted on the World Wide Web is EXCLUDED under Art. 9.
Also they would be excluded by art. 8.1.3 ( ... by a method that assures
numerous IDENTICAL and DURABLE copies .. produced ... simultaneously ...)

So, anything posted on the World Wide Web is excluded for a number of

BUT the TRICK is that those "hard copies" deposited in libraries are
THEMSELVES a separate and perfectly valid form of publication. So, it isn't
what on the WWW which is publication, but what is "printed on paper" that is
the publication.  And surprise the "5" and "deposition" in libraries are
irrelevant requirements for printed works. So long as when these printed
works are "when first issued," they are "obtainable," and they were
"produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a
method that assures numerous identifical and durable copies" then those
printed works are published in the meaning of the code. Hence, it is
possible, therefore, that only ONE copy may remain in existence and these
works will still be published under our Zoological Code.  [That is, one
annouces that work has been printed and is obtainable BUT no one obtains a
copy when the work was first issued.]

So, what remains the potential for a "resultant mess" is not the technology
or dissemination media but the simple fact that any people who doesn't
really care about the Science, etc., can happy generate printed publications
containing new names in their basement and these publications then may lie
around like unexplored mines waiting to cause confusion when a real
responsible scientist finds them! It has happened in the past, so I won't be
surprised that it will happen again.

So the problem that NATURE does not realize, nor appreciate, is while the
ICZN has since 1962 recommended that all zoologists send copies of their
papers to the Zoological Record to ensure that they are index and KNOWN to
the community, a significant portion of the publishing taxonomists DO NOT do
so. So, after 40 years of the ICZN asking zoologists to do this, NATURE
thinks a single editorial will change things? That people will now send
their papers to the Linnaean Society in London? Give me a break!

I, for my years as a Code Warrior / taxonomist, have never understood
colleagues who want to publish in obscure places and do not care that their
work is known to their colleagues. AND fight any kind of rule (i.e.,
registration) that requires them to make their work known to their
collegues. Why would one do some thing just to have it remain ,in essence, a

Sorry, but it is again Friday

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov [NB: no terminal "n"]
visit our Diptera site at www.diptera.org

>>> Geoff Read <g.read at NIWA.CRI.NZ> 06/20 5:08 PM >>>

A letter in this week's Nature (20 June), claims that "The current version
the Zoological Code officially recognizes new names posted on websites as
long as five hard copies are deposited in libraries" and adds "The
mess will take decades to clear up."

This is (I thought) untrue, since Article 9.8 excludes primary publication
www.  The nearest thing to ad lib publishing under the zoo code is CDrom.

Clearly, if I'm not off beam here, 'we' (I include americans also ;-))
rebut asap.


  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.cri.nz>

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