A question about species authors

Ron at Ron at
Sat Jun 5 04:42:24 CDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: E. Parmasto
Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2004 2:39 AM
Subject: Re: A question about species authors

Subject: Re: A question about species authors
Ron Gastrelle, 5 Jun 2004:
> snip
>  If Bill Gates wants to give me a few
> thousand tomorrow I promise that the next taxon I describe I'll either
> include him as co-author - or name it after him - his choice.
> Shabby?  In this day of funding being as hard to come by as hen's
> teeth, it is practical.   The bottom line is that the science needs to
> get done (including field excursions) and published.

If the main thing is to get the science done, why sell
only co-authorship and a taxon name? Why not
full authorship? First things first: science first, then
money, then nothing.
Erast Parmasto

I don't recall anyone saying anything about "selling" = taxonomy for hire.
That is why I mentioned 'tobacco scientists" = scientists/science for hire..
The terms used have been "give" and "funding" and "logistical support and
editorial assistance."

I am also not clear on how Erast meant his statement.  One way it could be
taken is that if the science is done accurately, why even have one's name on
it at all (science being the preeminent goal).   That is the issue of - who
gets credit.  Funny, many times grad students do most or all the work but
the professor gets most or all the credit.  How many really old taxa do we
have that were described under the name of the professor when the taxonomy
was done by the student?

As long as there are no strings attached that would adversely affect the
research, it matters not what the source of the funding is - it all spends
the same, private or institutional.   And if stating one will name a taxon
after the person or include them as a co-author is the final factor to gain
the "donation", so what?   Lot's of people only _give_ if they _get_ a tax
donation and/or the new University facility named after them.  IF  selfish
give - get is their motive that is their problem not ours.  Not everyone is
so pure (esp. when it comes to _their_ money) that they freely give
expecting nothing in return.  Most of us are simply not that noble - and
less so the larger the sum.

There have also been taxonomists down through the decades who have stole
specimens, research, slandered colleagues, etc. because it was all about
THEM (credit) as much or more than the science.   These types of people are
also, in my view, prone to be liars and producers of false data and bogus

Given a choice between an honest researcher who would be so dedicated that
if the only way he could get the research published was to let it be in
someone else's name,   and a guy who was so egocentric he would steal others
research and publish it as his own to promote his name --- well, I'll take
the former any day.

My point is that there are good and bad apples in every scenario.   Each
situation stands or falls on its own merit - a researcher is therefore free
to include whoever he wants as co-authors or name biota after whoever,
whatever he wants.  As I stated in my last post, as long as the financier
attaches no conditions that would alter the science, there are no eithical
or Code realted questions.   Just people's own opinions.

One more thing.  Erast said: "First things first: science first, then
money..."  This statement makes money a goal - e.g..? to go _into_ the
researcher's POCKET ?   Perhaps that is why Erast said "sell" the
name/authorship/research.   The only money being spoken of is money _into_
the RESEARCH.   Big difference between the person's pocket and financial
provisions to be _spent_  on enabling the research to be done.   In this
thread, money is a means to an end (being able to do research and publish
same), not an end in itself.   Thus, money ALWAYS comes first - for everyone
of us - either out of our personal funds (independent projects by "amateurs"
or PhDs), the institution one works for, grants, taxes, or _benefactors_.

Perhaps another factor is that it is all to easy for the professional who is
paid INTO his/her pocket hundreds to thousands each week to do this stuff,
to fail to remember that the independent research has paid thousands and
thousands OUT of his/her pocket over the decades to do the same stuff.
Thus, when the independent researcher stumbles upon a patron to support
their _research costs_, it is not unethical or unpermitted for them to be
very thankful and not only name a taxon after same individual, or, to even
include them as a junior author.  Such _personal_ benefactors ( vs. donors
to broad intuitional needs) frequently want to keep closely abreast of the
status and data of  the specific research they funded - they're directly

In the real world example that started this thread, was the senior author
who included the "patron" in authorship also a private researcher - or an
institutional employee?  In either case, I bet the "support" was direct and
project specific.

Ron Gatrelle

More information about the Taxacom mailing list