[Taxacom] decline and fall of taxonomy

Peter DeVries pete.devries at gmail.com
Wed Jun 17 16:22:22 CDT 2009

This is complicated.
For instance, say there is a hypothetical graduate student that has just
finished a revision of a genus for her thesis.

These theses can be 500 to 1000 pages long, but can be output in the form of
a PDF.

She has the option of taking parts of her thesis and publishing them in a
series of journal articles. This would add to her list of official
publications needed for an academic career.

She could also author and curate a LifeDesk, which might be more complete,
useful and accessible. However, the LifeDesk will result in no professional
credentials and may make it more difficult for her to publish her thesis in
a standard journal.

I think that something like a LifeDesk would be more accessible and useful
to other scientists. The data in the LifeDesk could also be encoded in
machine interpretable form so it is available for large scale analysis and
the Semantic Web.

However, the current system does not reward these kinds of efforts even
though they would seem to be much more valuable to the scientific community.

One of the advantages of a LifeDesk-type electronic document is that could
be curated over time, however, this would require that there be some
mechanism for periodic reviews or reviews of changes.

In summary, the current system is not setup to reward those efforts that
would be of the most value to science.

To answer your question, it seems something like 2 might be best. Or,
possibly an electronic journal that allows large metadata rich publications
that can be republished from time to time.



On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 1:02 PM, Cynthia Parr <parrc at si.edu> wrote:

> I've been following this thread and finally feel compelled to step in.
> I agree with Donat that we need to think more generally than LifeDesks and
> also with Pete that we need to think about how such a platform might
> accelerate publishing new descriptions, or at least make the process of
> digitizing and sharing knowledge more efficient. However, before we jump to
> linked data as a format, I want to take a step back and raise the question
> of the intermediate, practical steps of getting there. Some options:
> 1. Tools like LifeDesks could have robust modules for conducting peer
> review
> OR
> 2. They could allow authors to easily export a LifeDesk (or ScratchPad,
> etc.) species page as a manuscript for submission to a journal. The journal
> conducts the peer review process; the published paper then has the kind of
> clout recognized by promotions committees (and many peers). The information
> is already on the LifeDesk so is already freely available, and could be
> tied
> by the author to the final reference. OR
> 3. Authors could just archive print or digital versions of their digital
> species description in whatever way their code requires. Reviews could
> accumulate on the digital versions post-publication. OR
> 4. Authors could prepare their manuscripts as they do now, and publishers
> or
> EOL or someone could provide the service to database and semanticize them
> before or after publication.
> No reason to think we couldn't pursue all of these but it would help in
> prioritizing to know which route most practitioners might actually be
> willing to use. Number 2 seems easiest and most immediate to me, and we can
> add the semantics into the tool. 1 might come down the road. 4 is closest
> to
> what we're trying to do now and actually might be the hardest to scale up.
> 3
> might be the most modern, most long term solution. But those are my quick
> opinions.
> Feedback will help us take LifeDesks and ScratchPads in a productive
> direction.
> Cyndy
> --
> Cynthia Sims Parr
> Director of the Species Pages Group
> Encyclopedia of Life http://www.eol.org
> Office: 202.633.8730
> Fax: 202.633.8742
> parrc at si.edu
> Mailing address:
> National Museum of Natural History
> P.O. Box 37012
> MRC 106
> Washington, DC 20013-7012
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Pete DeVries
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

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