[Taxacom] Catalogue of Life, EoL, etc.

Tony.Rees at csiro.au Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Tue Sep 28 20:38:17 CDT 2010

Well - it depends on what you mean by "peer review" - I would interpret that to mean that the databases used would generally be regarded as the best available compilations by those working in the taxonomic areas, not that every included data item has been separately verified by the notional (?) peer reviewers, which is obviously impossible...

Obviously we are dealing with a spectrum from very minor to possibly major errors involving large suites of data. If you have examples of the latter, then perhaps that is the level at which to alert CoL or ITIS.

- Tony

From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 29 September 2010 11:33 AM
To: Rees, Tony (CMAR, Hobart); taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Catalogue of Life, EoL, etc.

Hi Tony,
Yes, but it isn't quite that simple - CoL effectively accepts responsibility for errors (rather than just being able to pass the blame to the data provider), by making sweet sounding grand statements like 'Species 2000 and ITIS teams PEER REVIEW databases, select appropriate sectors and integrate the sectors into a single coherent catalogue with a single hierarchical classification' [my capitals] (http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/2010/info/about). My problem is not with the errors per se (though there are actually "quite a few"), but with an alleged peer review process which appears to me like a black phantom in the dead of night (i.e. I know YOU can't see it, but it really is there, really, really ...) !

From: "Tony.Rees at csiro.au" <Tony.Rees at csiro.au>
To: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Wed, 29 September, 2010 2:20:43 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Catalogue of Life, EoL, etc.

Hi Stephen,

If you understand the data flow you will realise where the error originates, i.e. EoL uses that Cat. of Life for its taxonomic authority file / data backbone, CoL is a compilation of numerous (70+) specialist contributors, so errors in any of the latter will be propagated up the chain unless someone spots them (as you have done) - then the appropriate action is to inform the source database (in this case the BioSystematic Database of World Diptera, http://www.diptera.org/ ) who will no doubt be pleased to be alerted to it so that it can be corrected.

>From their site:

"It is a tremendous undertaking to continuously maintain, update, and refine our Systema Dipterorum.
Most entries are still at a suboptimal quality assurance level, new records are continuously published, and Diptera taxonomy changes as our knowledge grows.
We are strongly dependent on your help, and we are grateful for any piece of information you are able to contribute.
Just pass a note to one of us (Contact Us) if you note errors, omissions, or inconsistencies."

So before you take further issue with CoL and its data product users, alert the originators of the data, and those products will gradually improve. Also I believe that it is unreasonable to expect every large data compilation to be 100.00% correct, most are best efforts by individuals, often working over and above their paid jobs, and the odd error can obviously creep in. You will certainly find errors and inconsistencies in my data compilations too, but hopefully not too many and again, I am happy to be notified of them so they can be fixed when I next have a moment.

(Actually I have fixed a swag of these recently so my next product release will definitely be "cleaner" than before).

There are of course errors in the published literature too, as well as in abstracting services and their products, but again hopefully not too many.


Tony Rees, Hobart

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
> Sent: Wednesday, 29 September 2010 10:39 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Subject: [Taxacom] Catalogue of Life, EoL, etc.
> wondering how CoL and EoL managed to put one species of mosquito into
> family
> Tabanidae (totally unrelated)!!!
> http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-
> checklist/2010/details/species/id/6438191/source/tree
> wake up!
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