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

Frank.Krell at dmns.org Frank.Krell at dmns.org
Wed Feb 10 18:31:46 CST 2010

publication bottleneck:
In "Systematic Entomology" we had times when we published papers online about 8 months before they could be fit into the paper edition. We increased the page budget (hence the price for the journal) several times, but this isn't a solution ad infinitum. The publisher proposed that we should not have more of a time lag between electronic and paper publication than 6 months.
So what is the solution: delaying online publication AND rejecting papers that are perfectly suitable for the journal but either too long or were submitted at a busy time.
There IS a bottleneck caused by the paper edition of a journal (if it has a fixed number of pages per year which most business plans would require).


(formerly editor of Syst. Ent.)

Dr Frank T. Krell 
Curator of Entomology 
Commissioner, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 
Chair, ZooBank Committee
Department of Zoology 
Denver Museum of Nature & Science 
2001 Colorado Boulevard 
Denver, CO 80205-5798 USA 
Frank.Krell at dmns.org 
Phone: (+1) (303) 370-8244 
Fax: (+1) (303) 331-6492 

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Pat LaFollette
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:07 PM
To: Dean Pentcheff; taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] e-only from Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Dear Dean and Doug,

I am impressed by the passion of your rants - 
your rhetorical style would make a '60s radical 
proud (I know, I was one) but I don't think 
erecting straw men, over-the-top hyperbole, or 
insults will win many points with this audience.

"If we want to keep gumming over our precious 
cotton-rag pages..." Wow!  I may be an old geezer, 
but I still have all my teeth.  I chew my 
cotton-rag pages....  And for the record, no one in 
this thread has advocated paper-only or opposed electronic publication.

Cutting through to the meat of the issue, Dean wrote:
"Publications are kept in: (a) globally standard [de facto or de jure]
formats; and (b) on "live" storage on the net. They are continually
read and reread (and copied all over the place). Indexing requires
that they be machine-interpretable, so they are maintained that way
continually. Anything that doesn't "read" to the next generation
indexing routine gets migrated (in format) forward. That's not going
to stop. That is the qualitative change that makes digital data
readable in the future: it's no longer static."

I talked this over in some detail with Evgeniy 
Meyke, (U. Helsinki and EarthCape) who is a lot 
more knowledgeable than I about what exists and 
what is possible in the present 
computing/Internet world. All of the individual 
pieces of what Dean mentions exist, but for this 
specific application, the archiving of digitally 
published taxonomic literature, the pieces have 
yet to be integrated into a functional, with one possible exception.

In my opinion, the best candidate for doing this 
- archiving and distributing of newly published 
digital taxonomic works - is the Biodiversity 
Heritage Library. They are already in the 
business of archiving, indexing, and making 
available digital images of the taxonomic 
literature, and have the participation of a large 
number of major biological libraries, if only in 
the U. S. and England at present. They do not yet 
have a procedure for accepting documents from 
outside their normal workflow - digitizing and 
indexing printed books from participating 
libraries - but they are working on it and will 
hopefully have one in the near future.  If there 
is any other candidate for this role that is 
on-topic, with an infrastructure in place, and 
respected institutional support, I do not yet know of it.

Your arguments for abandoning paper publication 
NOW seem a bit like Cortez burning his fleet to 
"motivate" his men - a bit over-the-top for the 
present situation.  In my opinion, paperless 
publication of taxonomic works is entirely reasonable, just a little premature.

The economic arguments raise a lot of complex 
issues that should be discussed in detail, but 
separately.  The ease of publication argument 
raises the question "who would be using it?" This 
is a concern discussed at length in the "Rogue 
Taxonomist" thread.  It seems unlikely that ease 
of publication won't suddenly increase the number 
of working taxonomists or publishable 
manuscripts.  If there is at present a 
"publishing bottleneck" it needs to be 
documented.  How many manuscripts? How long are 
the delays?  The humanitarian, environmental, and 
saving-the-world arguments are rather more 
political and speculative than I care to address.

Pat LaFollette

Patrick I LaFollette
Research Associate in Malacology
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
pat at lafollette.com 

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