[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Thomas Pape TPape at snm.ku.dk
Thu Dec 4 14:44:30 CST 2008

David wrote:

> I don't think it is practical for the Commission to try to assess how 
> good every paper is.

We agree. The Commission has neither the mandate nor the resources nor
the intent to assess quality. A name or a nomenclatural act may be
available, or it may not. Taxonomy may be 'good' or 'bad' depending on
the outcome of any given review.

>  However, I do think it would be reasonable to 
> include a requirement for names to have peer review before they are 
> legal.

It is not clear whether you mean 'before the names can be considered
available' or 'before the taxonomy reach a certain scientific standard'.
The Code does give very precise requirements for when names are "legal"
(i.e., Code compliant and therefore available). Scientific quality
remains (and should remain) outside the Code and in the hands of
authors, editors, peers, assessment committees, etc. Code compliance is
probably to some extent uncontroversial as this is regulated by the
Code, and if/when ZooBank is up and running we will get a much better
handle on all newly proposed names. ZooBank probably will provide at
least some of the peer review you think is necessary.

I read your comment to express concern that by allowing electronic
publication to be Code compliant, we are at the same time allowing or
even encouraging 'sub-standard' taxonomy to flourish. I share this
concern, and although such 'sub-standard' taxonomy is in no way
prevented or even constrained by the present Code, the ease and speed of
producing an electronic publication (however this is defined) could be
feared to cause an explosive growth in 'sub-standard' e-only taxonomy.
But is this fear warranted? Could we perhaps at least partly prevent
this, either through the requirements of proper archiving, which
necessarily must be put in place, or by making registration in ZooBank a
requirement for e-only published names and nomenclatural acts?

Thomas Pape
Natural History Museum of Denmark

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