[Taxacom] e-publication of EarlyView: clarification needed

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Wed Sep 12 10:48:24 CDT 2012

> Why the obsession with pagination? If an article is online and has a DOI then it's published. Use the DOI to refer to the article. CrossRef has tools which can take a DOI and tell you when the article went online (and, indeed, when it was printed if that's applicable), and also whether the article has been updated (see http://www.crossref.org/crossmark/ ).
> Much of the discussion about digital publication seems to have the cart before the horse. Publishers are going digital only, physical pagination is less and less relevant, and articles are being given unique identifiers (such as DOIs) that provide many of the services we need. I guess we're still working this thing out, but it's time to stop treating digital publication as if it worked the same way as print.<

The difficulty here is largely a matter of adjusting from existing
tradition-does the journal that I'm writing for have a good system for
bibliographic citation of online publications?  how do I convey the
location of something within an online text in a way that is useful to
a human reader?  It should not be hard to do this, but it needs to be
done in a way that is both human and computer friendly.

Although I would expect that the vast majority of publishers are using
DOI's, etc., relying on them as the sole way to refer to an article
depends on it being a universal, consistent, and persistent reference.
 Not knowing much about the programming end of bioinformatics, I don't
know how thoroughly those issues have been addressed in any given
system, though no doubt they have been considered.

The flexibility of online publication makes it potentially difficult
to identify what is an official final version of a publication.  The
example of online early publication of non-final drafts is a
particularly conspicuous version, but more generally there's always
the urge to go back and make corrections or, among the less ethical,
to make it look as though you published more earlier than you actually
did.  These issues affect print as well-multiple printings of
taxonomic books often have unheralded changes between editions, and
poor-quality, hastily published material can be found on paper.  A
handful of freshwater mussel genera and type designations come from
the corrigenda to Frierson, which was apparently issued separately
from the main text as it's not present in all copies and pasted into
either the front or the back in the copies that have it.  Thus, I
can't pin down the date more precisely than between the original
printing and the first subsequent mention of the new names, two years
later (Zoological Record was rather late in noticing them).  In a way,
online has an advantage, because files should have some sort of dates
on them, if you know where to look.  The difficulty is that the ease
of producing multiple versions is much higher, and it may not be easy
to determine how many versions there are and which one you happened to

Dr. David Campbell
Visiting Professor
Department of Natural Sciences
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

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