another zoology authorship question

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at UWOSH.EDU
Tue Mar 7 08:47:45 CST 2006

At 08:20 AM 3/7/2006, Alan Harvey wrote:
>Here's a situation that differs from the above. Scientist A collects a
>broad taxonomic array of specimens as part of a grant-funded project.
>He identifies most specimens himself, but sends some obscure material
>to experts for identification. One expert (Scientist B), in a country
>with somewhere between a struggling and a collapsing economic
>infrastructure, requests for and receives substantial financial
>assistance from Scientist A. He then determines that some of the
>material represents a new species.
>So, unlike the typical collector-expert scenario, Scientist A provided
>considerable financial support to Scientist B, and is feeling some
>pressure from the granting agency regarding productivity. Scientist A
>wants to know if it is appropriate to request a co-authorship for the
>new species on these grounds, and I frankly don't know what to say. It
>seems reasonable to me, but then again I've never had a collector
>request co-authorship with me (I usually name the species after the
>collector, now that I think about it).
>What say other taxonomists out there?

A field botanist sent me material of a genus in which I have considerable
expertise.  He felt it represented one or two undescribed species.  He was
correct, but did not have the comparative material and expertise necessary
to name them.  He returned to the population several times to gather
additional material and investigate specific questions I posed, which
required interpretation on his part.   I considered that he had made a
genuine contribution to the realization that the species was new and its
characterization, so insisted that he be second author *on those names,*
though not on the paper, which included three other species with which he
had no involvement.

I think the question in such cases is honesty and motive.  If the motive
for including a person as an author is mercenary in any way, that is
bad.  If it is to promote science and scholarship in some fashion, however
nebulous, where is the harm.  In all cases, any statements about roles
should be honest.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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