[Taxacom] e-only from Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Tue Feb 9 18:47:43 CST 2010

Just a note on GenBank and "technical challenge" associated with maintaining e-archives:
the second one first: I'm no "techie" (though perhaps a little "tetchy"!), but I seem to recall about (in fact exactly) 10 years ago something called the Y2K bug which was feared to herald the end of civilisation as we know it! It fizzled out without anything at all happening, but how much do we REALLY know about long-term e-data security? Who can say what might happen in future? It would be nice to think that the few survivors of a comet impact could eventually rebuild civilisation and take up where we left off taxonomically (given that at least some of the critters out there would also have survived).

>There is no "print version" of GenBank; they consider electronic archives to be perfectly acceptable.
I think "they" have relatively short-term goals and values, by and large. GenBank is acceptable for present purposes, so they keep it funded for now...
As an aside, I wonder how many things in GenBank are misidentified (relative to good old type specimen based taxonomy/nomenclature), but that probably doesn't matter too much for the short-term goals and objectives either...


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega [dyanega at ucr.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, 10 February 2010 7:45 a.m.
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] e-only from Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

David Campbell wrote:

>In addition to the problem of intentional rogue taxonomy, e-only makes
>accidental rogue taxonomy much easier, e.g. putting online something
>that is unpublished such as a dissertation; making and perpetuating of
>erroneous names; taxonomic changes occuring in poorly documented
>updates; etc.  We have these sorts of problems already in print; e-only
>simply allows the problem to be much bigger.

Before this gets any farther off track...

The *idea* is to allow names published in e-only *journals* to be
taxonomically valid. The idea is NOT to validate names appearing in
any electronic document anywhere.

No one (outside of the proverbial rogues) would support or promote a
proposal that made the latter possible.

Also, Pat LaFollette wrote:

>So far as I have been able to discover, no form of electronic record
>is accepted as permanent by governments, business, or law.  (Apart
>from paper, only microfilm is acceptable in some cases.)  If e-only
>is not considered suitable for laws, vital records, deeds, business
>contracts, or any other record that law requires be preserved for
>more than a few (3 to 7) years, how can systematic biology find it
>acceptable for the permanent taxonomic record?

The amount of money that has been spent on the sequences stored in
GenBank is absolutely massive. There is no "print version" of
GenBank; they consider electronic archives to be perfectly
acceptable. If they can accept it, WE can accept it. There is nothing
*technically* challenging here, only a source of funding to maintain
and upgrade the archives.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82


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