[Taxacom] encylopedia of life

Snow, Neil Neil.Snow at unco.edu
Thu May 10 09:35:51 CDT 2007


Mary touches on an important point.  The lack of fiscal incentive to
taxonomists producing treatments is one reason, in certain cases, it
takes large Flora projects 10-20 years to pull off.  The idea of an
updated North American "Grass Manual" was hatched in 1986.  The finished
product, which includes Flora of North America Vols. 24 & 25, was
completed 20 years later.  Public kudos to Mary for sticking with a
herculean task.  I do not believe that all aspects of the "business
model" should be universally overlaid on universities and museums.
However, decent remuneration for a well-produced product delivered on
time is one of them.  NS

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Mary Barkworth
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 8:20 AM
To: Donat Agosti; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life

"I could hardly figure out any active scientist in the crowd. These are
the people who actually are building up content, like fishbase or
antbase.
Populating the database is so far generally a truly bottom up movement,
done by individuals and with little support from the respective
institutions".

I am not surprised. Were any systematists invited - with an offer to pay
their way and possibly (gasp) support their research?

Who is offering to pay for locating and scanning all the literature you
want to see made available?  

In preparing the grass volumes for FNA, one contributor commented, with
some bitterness, that we were prepared to pay illustrators a decent
amount - but we were not paying contributors. The myth is that all
contributors could develop their treatment as part of their job. This is
probably true for many of those employed by museums and gardens.  It is
often not the case for those employed by universities - and is certainly
not true for the many excellent taxonomists who work as consultants or
at have unrelated jobs that pay the bills and provide sufficient free
time they can pursue their love of plants (or other organisms) in their
free time. 

Infrastructure is only useful if there is support for structure. 

Mary




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