another zoology authorship question

Gene Hall Eugene.Hall at COLORADO.EDU
Tue Mar 7 09:30:32 CST 2006

Maybe this is a situation that should be worked out ahead of time before a
specialist is hired for a service. I don't see any reason why Scientist A
should not at least ask to be a co-author on the new species description,
though this probably should be discussed and agreed upon before sending
material off to a specialist for identification. I don't feel the money
aspect of things should determine co-authorship, but more along the lines
that Sci A conducted extensive fieldwork and understood the value of the
specimens enough to send them off  to a specialist for identification. If
Sci A is desperate enough to get his name on the new species I guess
another question could be: if Scientist B says "No, I'm the expert on this
group and will describe it myself since I identified it as new", does
Scientist A have the right to have the specimens returned and then describe
the new species  himself? I would think that wouldn't go over very well in
the eyes of many since specimens were sent off to a specialist for
identification in the first place. But, this may be an issue related to
time constraints on the grant, though a 'tentative' name (ex: "new species
#1") can be used by Sci A in the grant report and official new species
names used in the final publication/description. I suppose a lot of this
depends on what Scientists A & B agree upon in the beginning. I always feel
this is important to work out ahead of time whether I'm paid for a service
or not as the chances are high of describing new species in the group I
work on (Ptiliidae).

>In my experience, the right to publish descriptions of any new species
>is one of the perks, so to speak, for the taxonomist who identifies
>specimens, otherwise uncompensated, for others. Whether the collector
>is an author of the species is more or less at the discretion of the
>taxonomist, and I've seen it go both ways, depending on the individual
>taxonomist and on the relative expertise of the collector.
>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?
>Alan W. Harvey
>Associate Professor
>Department of Biology - 8042
>Georgia Southern University
>Statesboro, GA 30460
>phone (912) 681-5784
>fax (912) 681-0845

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:
Coleopterists Society:

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