Naming a species after yourself (zoology)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Mar 6 11:18:45 CST 2006

> The major issue here is allowing a person to be listed as an
> author when that person made no contribution to the paper being published.

I guess in my (atypical?) view, authors should be those who contributed to
the *science*; whether or not their fingers drove the keystrokes that
hammered out the MS.  And I believe strongly that the science of alpha
taxonomy begins in the field.  If a person discovers new species in nature,
and brings it to the attention of another person who is taxonomically more
familiar with the group for detailed comparative analysis, then both of
these people contributed to the science of the paper being published, in my

I agree that Science & Nature are not ideal yardsticks by which to compare
taxonomic publications, but I do not agree that the fundemntal premise that
authroship is a reflection of contributors to the scientific content of a
publication is somehow different or special for taxonomy. Short of outright
fraud, the decision of authorship of any scientific work should be left to
the collective set of people who assembled the science, and felt it worthy
of communicating to the broader scientific community through the medium of a

I agree that having the honoree of a patronym included among the authors of
*that* name is incredibly tacky.  I even agree that the situation where an
author of a paper is honored within that paper by a patronym (even if not a
taxonomic author of that name) is pretty damn tacky as well (I would never
put myself in that position -- mostly to protect my own scientific
reputation).  But my broader point is that, if there are no Code rules
addressing it, then we have bigger issues to deal with (in terms of getting
species described), than worrying about how much actual "science" each
author contributed, or how egotistical an author may be.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at

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