Naming a species after yourself (zoology)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Mar 6 15:19:16 CST 2006

Well...I guess my question in this particular case would be, by whose
interpretation is it that the third author "did not contribute to either the
writing or the research"?  And, by what definition of "contribut[ing]
to...research"? If all three authors would agree with this statement, then
why thid *they* (the three authors) include the third person as an author?
My basic point is, in most cases this seems to me to be the perogative of
the submitting authors.

It wasn't my intent to scrutinize Robin's specific case.  However, since
much the follow-up debate included vauge and generalized scenarios, I
thought it would be useful to comment on why I feel that authorship-worthy
"contribution" can come in forms that many people might not necessarily
consider to be such.

I'll also refrain from commenting further, as I think I've made my point as
well, and my chest is starting to get sore from all the beating.... :-)


P.S. note the :-)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Gene Hall
> Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 1:26 PM
> Subject: Re: Naming a species after yourself (zoology)
> I'm not basing my comments entirely on 'keystroke' contributions.
> Robin stated:
> As the 3rd author, after whom the new species is being named,
> did not contribute to either the writing or the research for the
> paper, it is my suggestion to the Editorial Board that the third
> author be deleted from the authorship list.
> I have a problem with someone being listed as an author if they didn't
> write the paper AND didn't conduct research directly related to the paper
> as sated in Robin's message. The fact that the person MAY later contribute
> something to the paper remains to be seen and  he/she shouldn't
> be included
> as an author until a contribution has been made either to writing
> or research.
> I believe I have made my point and will leave it at that. I don't want to
> fall into the same trap as others on lists who have a tendency to repeat
> themselves ad nauseam just to beat their chests and make the same point
> over and over again.
> Have a good day.
> Gene
> >I started to skip all of this discussion (being a botanist...), but I've
> >found it to be interesting. I agree with Rich (and others) that
> >contributions to the paper don't necessarily equate to keystrokes. A case
> >in point: In the 8th year of a 10-year survey of the "flora of Ames,
> >Iowa", an amateur botanist joined us in collecting plants. He didn't know
> >the names of very many plants, but he certainly had an eye for what was
> >new and different. And being retired, he was willing and able to devote
> >numerous hours to the project, which turned up a "record-setting" number
> >of species. He was in on our discussions, but didn't say much about the
> >project as it was being written up for publication. He certainly didn't
> >write any part of it, yet we included him as third author (of five)
> >because of his important contributions to the checklist. And he learned a
> >lot from the experience, including the recognition of a lot of plants.
> >This isn't the end of the story, though. By our encouraging his efforts,
> >he tackled the flora of an entire county, and even though he had
> help with
> >identification, editing and such, he produced a fine
> single-authored paper
> >that is now in press. And now he's working on yet another county, turning
> >up numerous county-records, and even a couple of state records. So in a
> >few years he'll have yet another great publication of his own.
> This likely
> >wouldn't have happened if he had felt that his efforts on the original
> >project had not been appreciated.
> >
> >Deb Lewis
> >
> >At 03:18 PM 3/6/2006, Richard Pyle wrote:
> >> > 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
> >>opinion.
> >>
> >>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
> >>publication.
> >>
> >>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.
> >>
> >>Aloha,
> >>Rich
> >>
> >>Richard L. Pyle, PhD
> >>Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
> >>1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
> >>Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
> >>email: deepreef at
> >>
> >
> >Deborah Q. Lewis, Curator
> >Ada Hayden Herbarium (ISC)             E-mail: dlewis at
> >Department of EEOB                        Phone: [1] 515-294-9499
> >Iowa State University                         FAX:  [1] 515-294-1337
> >Ames, IA  50011-1020
> ******************************************************************
> **************************************
> Gene Hall
> Invertebrate Zoology Collections Manager
> CU Museum of Natural History
> UCB 265
> University of Colorado
> Boulder, CO 80309-0265
> Phone: 303.735.5262
> CU Museum:
> Research/CV:
> Ptiliidae:
> Coleopterists Society:

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