[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Arthur Chapman taxacom3 at achapman.org
Fri Nov 12 14:59:47 CST 2010

As Richard says , it is not only a Zoological Issue, and a proposal has 
been submitted for changes to the ICBN to change the Botanical Code for 
e-only publication of plant names under a set of strict criteria.

The report of the Special Committee for Electronic Publication, along 
with proposals to change the Code have already been published as a 
preprint on TAXON's Fast Track system - they can be found at


Some additional reasons for e-only publications not fully covered in 
earlier discussions include

The numerous e-Journals already publishing Taxonomy (some 150 plus) - 
many which are now only offprinting just a few hard copies to satisfy 
the present Codes.  There is no guarantee that editors in the future may 
cease doing that and we will have a proliferation of names not validly 
published under today's Codes and for which it would be very difficult 
to determine if perhaps they had made a few hard copies available or 
not.  Discovery is essential. These names would begin to be used around 
the world and we could very well end up with a mess - with it extremely 
difficult to determine which names are valid and which not.  The hard 
copy need only be in 2 libraries and these may be very obscure.

 From a library point of view, many of the offprints are not of Journal 
issues, but of the papers themselves.  It is becoming a nightmare for 
libraries to store, and document etc. lots of small reprints - and as 
the numbers increase - this could become a bigger problem for storage 
and discovery.  Many of these off-prints are not on archival paper, and 
often use poor quality inks - take a look at some of your recent 
receipts - they don't last as long as one tax cycle.  There is no 
guarantee that these so-called hard copy publications will last long at 
all - while some technologies have improved, others have gone the other 
way, and with paper printing has led to early obsolescence.

Additionally - the Codes are voluntary only - they are not backed by any 
legislation, either nationally in any country or internationally.  It is 
only by voluntary agreement that they exist at all and are generally 
followed.  If it becomes too difficult or onerous for taxonomists to 
continue to follow the provisions of the Codes they may well just ignore 
them.  Many of the e-publications are likely to be far more accessible 
to the general public and to users of names (other biologists, etc.) 
than a couple of hard copies is some obscure, or even not so obscure 
libraries - and the literature could easily be flooded with names in 
general use thus marginalising the Codes and taxonomy generally. This is 
something we should be very wary of.

The North-South divide is an issue.  Many many institutions and 
libraries in developing countries (and increasingly in many developed 
countries) cannot afford to subscribe to expensive hard copy journals, 
or pay the exorbitant costs to publish in them.  I am constantly asked 
by biologists in places like Brazil and other South American countries 
when it will be possible to have e-only publication.  Most of the 
opposition to it appears to come from taxonomists in relatively 
well-funded 1st world institutions with access to large and well-stocked 
libraries.  They can still publish in the traditional way - but we must 
move ahead or become marginalised.

As laid out in the above-mentioned paper, the Committee saw the key 
issues to be discovery, access, immutability and archiving, and have 
attempted to address these in the current proposals.

Hope this helps

Arthur D. Chapman
Toowoomba, Australia


Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 07:26:02 -1000
From: Richard Pyle<deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN procedure question
To:<fwelter at gwdg.de>, "'Stephen Thorpe'"
	<stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>,	"'Lynn Raw'"<lynn at afriherp.org>
Message-ID:<721A63F17DBE42D69F448CDF45EFB542 at RLPLaptop>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

> >  I do not know why these discussions on zoological
> >  nomenclature have shifted to Taxacom, I agree with you that
> >  they would be more appropriate in the iczn-list.
It is no longer just a zoological issue, now that there is a draft (soon to
be published) proposal to amend the botanical Code to accomodate electronic


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