[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question: a discussion hijacked?

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Fri Nov 12 05:39:34 CST 2010

May be the discussion we lead regarding the e-publication is not relevant to
the point and other criteria than archiving ought be considered as more
relevant and decisive: access.

We taxonomists - especially the zoologists - are the keeper of a part of
scientific zoological names, those ruled by the Code,. But we can not
deliver such a basic list to assure, that a new name is not a homonym.
Simply, our old traditional way of publishing hard copies does not allow us
to keep up with the >million names there are. Despite efforts from
professional to hundreds of individual cataloguers, we can not, and will not
be able to deliver this catalogue within a reasonable time.
At the same time, the rate of discovery of new species is exploding, mainly
through molecular techniques, but also, because for some taxa, the digital
resources make it much easier to figure out new taxa.

That means, that we have to phase our print. We have to come up with new
criteria, as partially already in the amendment in ICZN, to define what an
electronic description has to include. From my point of view, it has to be
discoverable online. It has to have a link to the holotype metadata and
domain specific visual illustration, a DNA bit and its reference, a GPS
record, and the publication has to show that it is archived. In the better
case, Zoobank ought to have a digital copy of all the original description.

The only way to stick to the old would be a revolutionary way to access all
the printed record. Unless this is proven, we can not waist one other day to
produce something in a corner of the world that nobody might pick up.

I a truly globalized world, we can not stick to a old custom that proofed to
be inadequate to our science.

There are first example how such an electronic publication could look like,
including all the archiving and wide dissemination in various global
aggregators (Zoobank, EOL, etc.).

We should strive towards solution that serve a world that is marked with a
rapid discovery of new taxa and at the same time a tremendous loss, we are
unable to measure, and might never be, because we failed to deliver the very
basic tools to do so: a complete catalogue and access to the underlying

We should move the discussion about how to archive and sustainable business
model for the maintenance of our knolwedge to a subgroup of specialists that
are pros in this area and should not be hijacked by this discussion that
subordinates the real scientific question of taxonomy, the discovery of new
species, to some technical issues. The criteria are clear: access to
material that adequately describes the world taxa.


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Neal Evenhuis
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 1:42 PM
To: Lynn Raw; Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Lynn Raw
[lynn at afriherp.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2010 10:30 PM
To: Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

You might like to look at this web page:

Other countries have similar systems in place and these collectively
probably publish most of the taxonomic literature so perhaps the concerns
about storage are not a problem for the ICZN anyway.


Hi Lyn,

This is fine in theory but, despite the "legal obligation", not everyone
follows this. Probably because their are no legal repercussions (that I know
of -if anyone has heard of cases brought to court for non-deposition of a
published work, please let me know). The U.S. has a similar obligation for
publishers receiving ISSN and ISBN numbers  -- to deposit copies in the
Library of Congress -- but this does not always happen either.

This is not new. I have been researching the holdings of the Stationer's
Hall in England, which was supposed to be the legal depository for British
publications, and they are missing quite a lot of things published
throughout the 1800s and probably 1900s as well. Similar gaps are in the
Bibliotheque National de France despite their rules for depositing copies.

But I suppose such a "legal obligation" is better than nothing. But don't
bet your life on this happening for *every* publication.




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