[Taxacom] ITS, Species 2000,

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Sun May 27 02:59:31 CDT 2007

Mary Barkworth wrote

> We do ourselves a disservice by presenting opinions as facts. I also
> dislike the idea that we are, de facto, being told that there is a  
> body
> that will make the taxonomic decisions for the world.  At least state
> real sources for a taxonomic judgement, which I hope are published
> treatments, not the faceless ITIS - which Outlook keeps wanting to  
> make
> "IT IS" ;-).

I agree, and have grumbled about how the Catalogue of Life handles  
literature (http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2007/05/catalogue-of-life- 
openurl-and-taxonomic.html) -- basically they've rendered the  
available literature links nearly useless. Databases such as CoL and  
ITIS would be of greater value if they linked to original literature  
explicitly. AS an exercise I mapped publications in ITIS to DOIs, and  
around 8% can be linked to DOIs (the full list is here: http:// 
linnaeus.zoology.gla.ac.uk/~rpage/itis/ ). I suspect a lot more names  
in ITIS could be linked to original sources.

Rich Pyle wrote:

> Wouldn't if be cool if all of these datasets were interconnected in  
> a way
> that not only allowed the algorithmic analysis I described in my  
> previous
> post to alert these "meta-authorities" when one of their  
> declarations about
> synonym or classification deviated substantially from the collective
> literature, but also exposed the data in such a way that made it  
> very easy
> for taxonomists to provide instant feedback?  I bet we could  
> develop such an
> infrastructure -- it would probably take about ten years and cost  
> about $50
> million; but DAMN it would make my job as taxonomist much easier!  
> We just
> need to think of a catchy name, with a simple three-letter acronym....

I don't think this needs anything like $50 M. A simple start is to  
take uBio RSS feeds (http://www.ubio.org/index.php?pagename=ubioRSS),  
extract literature linked to names, and for each name in a database  
flag whether it has been mentioned. By itself this would be a start.

I've always felt that one of the simplest things the taxonomic  
community could do would be to assemble a central bibliography of  
taxonomic works, each assigned a GUID (DOIs, Handles, or persistent  
URLs), and where ever possible linked to an electronic version of the  
paper. Sounds a monumental task, but I suspect it is easier than  
people might think.



Professor Roderic D. M. Page
Editor, Systematic Biology
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QP
United Kingdom

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