[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Thu Nov 11 19:33:55 CST 2010

Stephen Thorpe wrote:

>this is an advantage of e-pubs over hard copy, but NOT an advantage of e-ONLY
>take ZooKeys as a good example: they publish hardcopy AND open 
>access electronic versions of the same articles, so you get the 
>advantage of worldwide free access, along with the advantage of 
>solid long-term archiving of the hard copy
>we have both, so why ditch one?

Because WE are not the ones publishing these journals, and many of 
the people who ARE publishing these journals are going to ditch paper 
copies whether WE like it or not. Refusing to accept the *absolutely 
inevitable* abandonment of hard copies by major, reputable, 
peer-reviewed publishers is not going to improve the standing of the 
ICZN or ICBN. The Codes cannot remain relevant, and expect 
compliance, if they insist on something which the publishers will not 
accept, and many authors do not care about enough to fight for. There 
are now ample examples - many of them discussed here in the past - to 
demonstrate that there are plenty of authors in the paleontological 
community, at least, who are perfectly happy to publish new taxon 
descriptions in e-only journals even if the Codes indicate that their 
taxa are not validly published. This isn't hypothetical: we have told 
people "We will ignore what you publish if it isn't Code-compliant" 
and some people's response has been "Then we will publish anyway, and 
ignore your silly antiquated Code". I have visions of John Cleese 
doing a bad French accent and hurling insults at us from atop a 

Do you honestly expect authors to stop submitting papers to places 
like Nature or Science or PLoS unless they are given reassurances 
that hard copies will be printed and archived?

To finish the thought, you asked:

"who wants e-only and how will they benefit from it?"

Who wants it? (A) Publishers, and (B) authors who want minimal page 
charges. The former get to make more money, the latter get to keep 
more of what little money they have. I wouldn't be surprised if 
libraries would also prefer e-only, for similar reasons. If you want 
to stop this trend in its tracks, you are going to have to come up 
with a darn good reason that all these people should MAINTAIN the 
production of hard copy versions - and it has to be a reason that has 
nothing to do with the Code(s). Jim Croft commented:

"but I really worry about entrusting
something as important as the establishment of a new taxon name to
ONLY something as demonstrably fickle, unreliable and evanescent as
the realm on the internet."

Lots of taxonomists worry about this, but since taxonomists are not 
the ones publishing it all, it is out of their hands. "For the good 
of taxonomy" is not going to convince anyone. I've suggested in the 
past that we take control and publish it all ourselves, as both 
digital and hard copy, but the volumes of hate mail that proposal 
generated make it clear that it isn't an option.


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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