[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Thomas J Simonsen Thomas.simonsen at ualberta.ca
Thu Dec 4 14:43:37 CST 2008


Personally, I see (only) two problems with the proposal from the commission.

The first is the lack of peer review already mentioned by others. This  
is not specifically a problem for web based publications as there are  
a few "basement publications" around already. It is true that editors  
of such publications could bypass a demand for review by asking  
friends or relatives to be reviewers. A radical solution to this  
problems *could* be to demand that new names and nomenclature changes  
are only published in publications that are supported by scientific  
institutions and societies (this support could simply be that the  
editor in chief is employed by an institution or appointed by a  
society). It may be impractical, but is it more impractical than the  
problems caused by names and nomenclature changes published in  
"basement publications"?

The second problem I see is the demand for registration on ZooBank of  
electronically published names and changes only. This will only create  
first and second level taxonomic works. If anything, the need for  
registration is lesser for the easily searchable e-publications  
compared to paper publications. It is very well to recommend that  
journal editors ask authors to register names and changes. But why not  
have one rule for all?

Finally, I think that web based, open access publications is the only  
way forward for science (not just taxonomy). Paper based publications  
(incl. subscription based access to PDFs) is all very well for those  
of us who have access to large research libraries. But an increasing  
number of scientists and others with an interest in science haven't  
got that. Access to a computer, the internet, and electricity are  
often easier to come by than access to a library. And if you are  
physically away from the library, you need access to these three  
anyways. I think that Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification,  
edited by Stephen Marshall at the University of Guelph, is an  
excellent example of the direction we could (and IMO should) move.

Thomas J. Simonsen, PhD, Post Doc
Department of Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E9

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