[Taxacom] A simple solution?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Nov 15 02:50:56 CST 2010

Sorry for not responding to this sooner; I was hoping that Frank Krell or
one of the other Commissioners would respond. (Frank has been the strongest
advocate for such a system as you describe.)

> Rather than a separate organisation being set up as an 
> e-publication Bank per se at this time, why not mandate that 
> a copy (in the same format as the
> original) of any electronic publication must be sent to the 
> 'Registrar' at the ICZN at the time of publication (to arrive 
> within a specified time period, perhaps 1 month, to allow for 
> the possibility that it must be sent by snailmail), rather 
> than the current "deposited in at least 5 major publicly 
> accessible libraries which are identified by name in the work 
> itself", which does not clearly define the quality of library 
> considered or not considered 'major'. The Registrar would 
> then add the nomenclatorial information to the bottom of a 
> page in the ICZN website, so the whole World can see that eg. 
> xxx new name has been published with the reference to the 
> e-publication listed. This would prevent problems of validity 
> of publication, at the same time as disseminating the basic 
> information (nomenclatorial act & reference) to the 
> taxonomists who need to know about it. At the same time there 
> would be no question over priority of e-publications, or 
> between e- and paper publications, as the publication date 
> would be included in the information on the website.

This is basically the idea that was discussed at great length among the ICZN
Commissioners, during the last major meeting in Paris in 2008.  Certainly
the "Registration" part is already inb place via ZooBank (which registers
Published Works separately from the Nomencaltural Acts contained within
them).  And during the drafting of the current pending Amendment for
e-publications within ICZN, the idea of requiring submission of e-copies of
said works to ICZN was discussed at some length.  Also discussed were other
archival systems for literature, such as LOCKSS and BHL (among others).  I
don't remember exactly why this provision didn't make it into the final
wording of the proposed Amendment, but I believe it involved several
factors, such as lack of infrastructure within ICZN to serve as a robust
archive (compared with other e-archives that are much more experience at
this sort of thing), as well as potential Copyright issues, and various
other factors.

The Commissioners will spend the next several months crafting the final
details of the proposed amendment, in adavnce of a final vote for adoption
(or not).  During this time, I suspect the option to require deposition of
an e-copy of all e-only publications either at ICZN, or to some other
e-Archiving mechanism, will likely be discussed again.

One issue that is always complicated when discussing requirements for
registration is that, in all other cases, Nomenclatural Acts are anchored to
a single "Event" (the publication of a Code-compliant work).  The new
provisions now must accommodate two separate Events (publication *and*
registration), which in most cases will not happen simultaneously.  That
opens a complicated issue of how much time to allow between these two
disparate events before rendering the first unavailable.  There's also a
question of what taxonomists should do or assume during the time gap after
the first of the Events occurs, but before the second one does.  There are
solutions to all of these, but none are especially elegant.

> This could be set up with relatively little extra funding, 
> and once established, over time it would be relatively easy 
> to find sources of new funding to expand the project into a 
> repository of ALL new nomenclatorial acts (with a change 
> mandating that paper publications must also be sent to the 
> Registrar) at a later stage.

It's already set up on the Registration side (has been since 1 January
2008), and there is already funding to improve the user interface.  So that
part is not the hold-up.

Certainly the ICZN could afford the hard-drive space to store the
e-documents themselves, but that's the easy part.  The hard part is ensuring
that the e-documents are adequately archived, which means the involvement of
some sort of major archival mechanim. There are several, but one or more
would need to be selected, adopted, and (if necessary) paid for.

> The ICZN Registry webpage could also include a link to 
> download the e-paper from the ICZN's server (providing open 
> access). 

The last bit is the tricky one.  If it's already Open Access, then it makes
sense to link to the Publisher's web page for it, rather than the ICZN's
local copy (using the ICZN copy only in the event that the Publisher cannot
deliver the document).  But the harder part is dealing with those
e-documents that are *not* open-access.

And, yes, the idea of requiring e-only publications containing nomenclatural
acts be open-access was also considered at some length.

> However it may be necessary to implement this at a 
> later time, when  the ICZN server is able to both store and 
> provide online access to a large amount of data and users. 
> Probably this would be dependent on increased funding 
> generated by the first phase of the project.

Yup, that's pretty-much the complication. Also how to deal with
non-open-access e-publications.

Certainly, ZooBank will soon include links to open-access publications
(already in the data model, but not yet completely implemented on the user
interface except for Zootaxa and a few others).  And it will also link to
BHL page images for both publications and original descriptions of names,
for restrospectively registered content that is available through BHL.

There are a number of options out there; the trick is finding the best one
for our community, and then sorting out where the funding is coming from.


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