[Taxacom] e-publication of EarlyView: clarification needed

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Fri Sep 14 06:34:54 CDT 2012

If I have not overlooked something, the initial question by Markku 
Savela from 12 Sept which opened the DOI discussion has not really 
been answered:

> If you have a 100+ page monograph of something, containing
> descriptions of new taxa, what do you use to generate a
> direct link to the location within the document that contains
> the description?

If we have a paper with a numbered list of names, some of them new, 
and the descriptions following later in the same paper, the names not 
being repeated there, only the numbers. The traditional form is to 
cite two page numbers.

In the early 1800s there has been a fashion in English biodiversity 
literature to publish long monographs with many colour plates and 
without any pagination. It is very difficult to refer to a statement 
or species within such a monograph. Later the English authors 
paginated their books, as all others had always done it.

It seems to me that this old fashion is resurrected 150 years later 
in the electronic age. If a long monograph has no pagination, how can 
I give a bibliographic reference to a certain statement and expect 
that my readers will quickly be able to verify that statement in the 
monograph? It is not useful to say "lizards can be green (Smith 
2012)" if Smith published a 400-page monograph and that statement can 
be hidden anywhere. The usual form is to give the page 
number (Smith 2012: p. 278) because the experience tells us that 
screening a single page by eye can be done quickly. If documents have 
no pagination this option is lost.

Page numbers are also important to judge the quality of a 
contribution. If the paper has 6 pages then I can see that this was a 
short contribution about a special problem. If the paper has 400 
pages then I can see this was a very long paper. If I only have 
the DOI number and no page run given in the list of references then I 
cannot see which kind of a contribution was cited here. If such 
citations appear in lists of literature references (DOI numbers 
instead of journal name and page run) this forces the reader to do 
additional research for finding information that the authors of the 
present paper should rather give directly. 

I also imagine a situation in which I try to find a bibliographic 
reference given in a paper published 100 years ago and which 
consisted mainly of an identifier that once led to a commercial 
internet website 100 years ago, but which does not lead to anything 
intelligent any more today. From the fact that such identifiers lack 
any additional information that makes sense to the human eye, I 
would derive the conclusion that those people trusted apparently very 
much in the eternal function of such identifiers, very few years 
after these had been invented. 

I am asking myself how I should behave when I review manuscripts for 
journals and authors give only the DOI numbers without journal name 
and page run in their lists of references. It is perhaps better to 
accept the DOI numbers only in addition to the traditionally given 
metadata, not as a replacement for them.


University of Goettingen, Germany

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