[Taxacom] e-publication of EarlyView: clarification needed

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Thu Sep 13 02:02:39 CDT 2012

Dear Dick,

I'm sorry if you feel I've been disingenuous.

It seems to me that volume numbers and pagination reflect a particular way of publishing, namely regular batches where you have the articles in a known order and so can assign them to a specific volume and give them page numbers. This works well in the print world, and helps users find articles - if you're looking at a wall of bound volumes, knowing the volume and page number helps find the article. Having a multipart identifier (journal-volume-page) for an article makes sense in such an environment.

Digital publication is more of a stream, articles typically go online when they are ready, and pagination may be arbitrary, especially if the article is displayed in a format such as HTML or ePub. In such an environment having an identifier that uniquely identifies an article without reference to journal, volume, or page makes sense. DOIs were developed to provide such an identifier.

To use a DOI you simply append it to http://dx.doi.org/, e.g., 10.1080/00222939808677978 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00222939808677978 . This gets you to the page for this article. CrossRef (which manages DOIs) requires publishers to maintain the DOI and the URL is links to. Whether you have access to the article itself is another matter. If you're curious about CrossRef and what it does see http://www.crossref.org/ 

What we are missing is a mapping between taxonomic names and DOIs (or other bibliographic identifiers). One of my frustrations with ZooBank is that it doesn't have this mapping (which is one reason I'm messing with http://iphylo.org/~rpage/itaxon ). What I'd like is a system where for any taxonomic name you get a link to the original publication of that name and, ideally, you can see that publication there and then. DOIs are part of making such a system possible.

It's clear that as publishing moves to being digital there are lots of transitional stages, and different parts of the system change at different rates. I regard PDFs, for example, as part of that transition, because they are essentially representing printed pages on a computer screen. There is a vocal group of scientists keen to drop PDF in favour of other formats (see https://sites.google.com/site/beyondthepdf/ and http://scholarlyhtml.org/ ). Hence I suspect much of our discussion about PDFs will also, eventually, appear "quaint".



On 12 Sep 2012, at 21:21, Richard Petit wrote:

> Dr. Page wrote: "The notion of volume/issue and pagination is rather quaint in the digital world".  I hate to use the word, but this is disingenuous. He also seems to state that a DOI is all that is necessary to locate a description or nomenclatural act.
> We are now relieved of the burden of remembering the names of books or journals.  If you pick up a specimen and recall that you have recently seen it in a publication, you don't have to remember which journal it was in or who wrote the paper, you only have to recall the DOI.  DOI uses as an example DOI 10.1000/182. All that a systematist now has to recall is that a given species is described, for example, in DOI 16.3759/289 and that it is in the second fourth of the paper (there being no page numbers). I am not sure what the mechanism is for obtaining the cyberspace publication represented by the DOI or even how its source is known. Considering how thoroughly this scheme has been developed I am confident that there is some procedure, hopefully involving a finite number of steps.
> It is part of the scheme that digital publications have to be permanently stored but is there a corresponding requirement that the archivers must make them available? Such a requirement would be imposible to enforce and is therefore simply window dressing. Rather like putting perfume on a hog.
> Lewis Carroll would be envious that he did not invent this "system."  We needed William Jennings Bryan who might have said: "We will not be crucified upon a cross of digital publication; this crown of cyber numbers will not be pressed upon the brow of systematists."
> I cannot with sincerity close with "respectfully" as I have lost almost all of what little remaining respect I had for the ICZN.
> dick p.

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

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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