[Taxacom] e-only publication for zoology, starts today

Alastair Culham a.culham at reading.ac.uk
Mon Sep 10 03:56:42 CDT 2012

Twenty five years ago I was working on a taxonomic revision of a small genus of flowering plants with a worldwide distribution.  This was the focus of my PhD.  Much of the three years of research was spent trying to track down obscure publications.  Even having the Natural History Museum and Kew only two hours rail travel away left me with many difficult references and a big bill for travel and photocopying.

Now I can access those same obscure books and journals via BHL, BHL Europe and a few other web portals.  It saves time, it saves travel money and it reduces my carbon footprint.  It also makes my research more complete and thorough. New publications, even if in printed journals, are usually available electronically.  I tend to access electronic resources from my computer rather than walking to our university library to see the print copies.  The problem journals for me now are usually paper ones that are young enough to be in copyright but old enough not to have been published electronically.

e-only publication hardly impacts on my daily work because I was already using e-access for 'paper' journals.

Long term access and security of e-only publications is a technical problem that will be tested over time.  However at the current time there seem to be more print journals and ancient books being digitised for archival security than there are cases of e-only publications being lost.  

Surely the essential element of publication of new names is that they can be peer reviewed, such that a lot of nomenclatural noise is avoided, and that they are accessible to researchers.

I'm a botanist who thinks e-only publication is working out well; but perhaps that just means I'm dumb? 


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