[Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Sep 5 01:07:07 CDT 2012

Not quite; the Amendment for Zoology was drafted in Paris in 2008; when
e-publication was just a gleam in the botanists' eyes.  Depending on how you
prefer to frame the world, either this means that zoologists are hopelessly
inefficient in getting things done, or botanists are reckless and overly


But in any case, it would seem that the Zoologists are the "Joneses" on this





From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 7:57 PM
To: Richard Pyle; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Cc: Jim Croft
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"


somewhat hard to fathom the rationale ... perhaps the botanists are the new
"Joneses", or, dare I say it, the new "Kardashians", and the zoologists just
have to keep up (even if they don't know why!) ...


From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
To: 'Stephen Thorpe' <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>;
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 5:39 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"

Hi Stephen,

I'll leave it to others to debate the influence of e-publication on the
taxonomic impediment.

However, having been intimately involved with the entire process of the
e-publication effort within ICZN since before the original drafting of the
Amendment in Paris, I can ABSOLUTELY guarantee you that this was NOT, in any
way, driven by publishers.  The pressure to accommodate e-publication has
come from the taxonomic community, which ICZN serves.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
> Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 3:45 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"
> Hello Taxacomers,
> I am at a bit of a loss to know how the advent of e-only publication in
> is supposed to help reduce the "taxonomic impediment", despite the
> apparent claims by the ICZN that it will help to do so, and, indeed, they
> this sound like the primary motivation, with just one or two commentators
> making brief note of the fact that it may also be a little bit good
> for publishers (i.e., "the paper impediment to (profitable) publishing").
> what is the so-called "taxonomic impediment"? As I understand it, it
refers to
> difficulties for doing certain sorts of biology (e.g. conservation,
ecology, etc.)
> due to the fact that so many species are still so poorly documented or
> undocumented (i.e. undescribed/unidentifiable) taxonomically. If this is
> what it is, then the implicit claim being made in support of e-only
> in zoology is that with paper out of the way, the way is clear for a
> increase in the rate of new species  descriptions and/or taxonomic
> The problem, as I see it, with this claim, is that I don't think it will
make the
> slightest bit of difference to the rate of description/revision. I don't
think it
> will make any real difference at all to taxonomists, only to publishers.
> rate of taxonomy is not limited, I suggest, by the rate at which
publishers can
> churn out hard copy. Rather, it is limited by several other factors, such
as the
> amount of funding available for taxonomy, the number of active taxonomists
> (these things are probably linked), etc.
> Cheers,
> Stephen
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