[Taxacom] e-publication only ramifications [was ICZN procedure question]

Neal Evenhuis neale at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Nov 11 20:47:00 CST 2010

I'm not sure *all* libraries (if any) are driving this. One way many
natural history museum [= taxonomic institutions] can afford to have
journals on their library's shelves is to have an exchange program with
other museums (the trick is both institutions have to have a published
product that each other wants). Many museums have a publishing program and
as such have exchanges with many libraries worldwide. Bishop Museum gets
about 230 or so different journals (more than those they pay subscriptions
for) this way. Our exchanges are primarily with those southern (as opposed
to northern) undeveloped (vs developed) countries whose first language is
not English. Any many are Pacific-island based.

Without a hard copy journal to exchange, they will not be getting those
other taxonomic journals and if those other taxonomic journals do not have
e-versions, researchers at those museums will be affected in their ability
have copies of articles at their disposal, many of which are not available
online or as pdf files from authors. Of our exchanges, only one
publication, the Bulletin of the Raffles Museum, has gone to e-publication
for their exchanges and only prints a minimal amount of hard copies to
comply with the Code. All of our other exchanges have kept hard copy
publication for various reasons, one of which is to no doubt to have
copies available to maintain their exchange program.

It has been postulated that if *everyone* goes to e-publication then there
will be no perceived problem. I beg to differ. Maybe no problem for
museum-based journals on this exchange program; but as has been pointed
out previously and I will reiterate -- society journals will be the first
to see the problems (from the smallest first to the largest last).
Societies exist primarily on the revenue from subscriptions from members
and their journal(s) is/are usually the only physical benefit one gets
from membership -- especially for members who do not live nearby to attend
meetings (i.e., no "social" benefit). Loss of a physical journal could
very well mean a significant reduction of membership (especially from
members who do not live nearby where meetings are held), which equals a
loss of revenues from members, and as resultant reduction in the financial
health of the society -- the journal will die and ultimately the society.

If this is what we are looming toward in the new world of open access for
everyone who wants information to be free -- without examining the
repercussions -- I feel we will have enacted a selfish desire for
something free for ourselves and "too bad" to whatever happens to those
who are negatively affected. That equates to "throwing the baby out with
the bathwater". Maybe us taxonomists don't give a rip about the baby.

Most of the complaints of publishing in journals that demand a payment to
see an article are focused on the few big rich publishers and this action
of open access somehow sounds like a way to teach them a lesson or
something. Beware that innocent people may well be affected too.

But maybe societies will eventually become an unnecessary part of life as
we no longer need to see people face-to-face anymore. We email or text
people who work in the office next to us; remote teaching is being
advocated; and telephones are bad since almost all the incoming calls you
get are robot calls from politicians or solicitations.

I guess we northern-based, developed country taxonomists who speak English
first and no other languages after that can do just fine sitting in our
little office by ourselves and thumb our noses at the rest of the world
that tries to bother us. As long as we get that free pdf file damn it!



On 11/11/10 3:57 PM, "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
scribbled the following:

>yes, I think we are starting to understand each other on this issue
>maybe it is libraries who are driving this? If publishers can continue to
>profits by selling hard copies to libraries, then they have little or no
>to stop producing those hard copies. On the other hand, if they can sell
>e-subscriptions (with lower overheads from not having to print hard
>then that might be a strong reason for publishers to stop producing hard
>In that case, taxonomy and nomenclature are threatened by publishers
>wanting to 
>maximize profits. Sounds like the ICZN (some of whom are also publishers)
>accepted this, and plan to change the rules to suit the publisher's
>thirst for 
>higher profits. Well, that is one way to jump ... but what are the
>(if any)? A lot depends on the claimed "inevitability" of hard copy being
>scrapped anyway by publishers in the future. Suppose that happens. Then
>we do 
>indeed have a problem. What to do?
>Suggestion (details need tweaking): it is easy nowadays for anyone to
>print out 
>text and illustrations, at least of "reasonable" quality. We don't need
>publishers for that. So why not make it a requirement that for a new name
>to be 
>valid, a hard copy of the PDF from the publisher must be printed out (by
>and deposited in say 6 designated ICZN "libraries" scattered around the
>Each library could just be a small leased office space or something?
>From: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
>Sent: Fri, 12 November, 2010 2:33:55 PM
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN procedure question
>Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>>this is an advantage of e-pubs over hard copy, but NOT an advantage of
>>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)
>              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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