[Taxacom] e-publication of EarlyView: clarification needed

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Wed Sep 12 11:24:38 CDT 2012

On 12 Sep 2012, at 16:48, David Campbell wrote:
> 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.

Location within a text is a separate issue, most identifiers tackle identifying the actual text itself. 

> 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.

DOIs were expressly created as universal, persistent identifiers (as much as such things can exist). In the bibliographic world CrossRef manages DOIs, and provides tools for their discover, maintenance, and for discovering which version of an article is the latest.

> 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
> read.

There are tools for identifying the official version (see http://www.crossref.org/crossmark/ ), and one could argue that part of the rationale for DOIs is to make it easy to find the definitive version (if you resolve the DOI you will get the authoritative version).

Yes, in reality dates of publication can be murky if there are multiple versions, but for most digital articles there will be a precise publication date. I also wonder how often exact date is an issue for recent taxonomic work? 



> -- 
> Dr. David Campbell
> Visiting Professor
> Department of Natural Sciences
> Gardner-Webb University
> Boiling Springs NC 28017
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

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