[Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Sun Jan 31 02:19:08 CST 2010

Bob - I can see where you are coming from, and if everyone were like you there would be no problem, but they ain't! You have your fears of "taxonomic spam" taking over, but I have my fears about your proposed solution. I fear that taxonomic progress will slow down significantly if restricted. A significant proportion (but by no means all) of the taxonomists who would survive the restriction would be working in corporate environments and would be trying to do as little taxonomy as possible for as much funding as possible. Increasingly, more and more funding would go to molecular or economically driven projects, and less to pure taxonomy. I just think that the (possibly imaginary) "taxonomic vandals" you worry about are not the real enemy! I just don't think there are an army of Makhans waiting over the hill ready to charge when they get the e-only flag! I don't know what motivates Makhan, but there is little to suggest that he is trying to cause trouble (he bites back, but only in self defence, as far as I can tell). His work on beetles has improved a little over the years - sure it still is pretty shoddy - but people need to be given the opportunity to improve. His recent millipede paper is rock bottom, but it is his first go at the (difficult) group...


From: Bob Mesibov [mesibov at southcom.com.au]
Sent: Sunday, 31 January 2010 8:51 p.m.
Cc: Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Hi, Stephen & others patiently following this thread.

Look, I am *not* worried about rogue taxonomy/ists in general. I am worried very specifically about the proposed amendment to the zoological Code which will allow an e-only work to be considered a publication. I don't see this as a gradualist change which won't make very much difference. I see it as a huge change which for truly bad taxonomists to make truly big impacts.

The responses I'm reading here remind me of the early days of email, which was seen as just electronic letters. It wasn't, it was different, and now some ungodly proportion of all email is junk spam. I'm concerned that e-only publication will become dominated by spam taxonomy.

We need controls. It's a big ask to want the ICZN to put quality controls on the whole of taxonomic publishing, desirable as that might be. It is *not* a big ask to want e-only publication restricted to a whitelist of selected journals.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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