[Taxacom] Taxonomic journal digitisation league table

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Tue Oct 8 08:14:01 CDT 2013

The mere fact that an article or journal is listed as being online does not
guarantee that the quality is adequate for use.  Illustrations in
particular are often of inadequate quality, and some large-scale
digitization efforts seem not to have allowed time for proofreading (Google
comes to mind).  Sometimes patchy quality strongly suggests that the
original scan was good but later processing was unsuitable (for example, a
search for the Iconographie complète des coquilles fossiles de l'Éocène des
environs de Paris turns up a number of plates where some figures are good
and some have been butchered into unrecognizable blobs).  I don't think
I've ever encountered a fold-out page that Google actually unfolded and
scanned properly.  I've scanned enough massive old volumes myself to know
that it's not the most exciting task in the world, but I use my scans and
check to make certain that they turned out well.

Of course, older journals have a tendency to make things hard for the
digitizer, especially if individual articles are being separated.  Plates
are often stuck in random places, or all at the back of the volume, with
specimens from multiple articles fit onto one plate.  In the old days, the
journal Nautilus seemingly accumulated illustrations until a plate was full
and then printed it, not necessarily in the same number as the accompanying
article.  There's also the habit of continuing an article in several
pieces.  Modern publishing has re-created the problem with the often
evanescent and elusive online-only supplementary content.

Thus, just as for taxonomic databases, catalogs of online journal
availability require some sort of indication as to whether the quality has
been checked if they are going to be useful.

On Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 7:39 AM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk> wrote:

> I've done a quick visualisation of the digital availability of taxonomic
> journals, based on data in BioNames (http://bionames.org).  There's a
> blog post about the table at
> http://iphylo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/which-taxonomic-journals-should-be.htmland you can see the complete table here:
> http://bionames.org/labs/coverage/
> The table is colour-coded to flag major gaps in digitisation, namely those
> journals that have little or no online presence (at least, that BioNames
> knows about). There are some major journals (1000's of articles) that are
> mostly inaccessible (e.g., "Bulletin de la Société entomologique de
> France", "Revue de zoologie et de botanique africaines", "The Pan-Pacific
> entomologist", "The Entomologist's monthly magazine", "Senckenbergiana
> biologica" to name a few). A number of major Russian and Chinese journals
> have limited online presence (although in part this because I've not added
> had time to all the available articles from those journals).
> I'm hoping that this list will indicate the scale of what remains to be
> done if we want to digitise all the animal taxonomic literature. I'm also
> hoping that projects such as BHL could use this list to help decide what
> journals to prioritise for scanning.
> If anyone is involved in the publication of a journal that is in the "red"
> or "orange"  zones then I hope they would consider digitising that journal
> and making their contents accessible to the wider community. I realise that
> this can be a complex issue, both in terms of the financial implications
> for a scientific society or institution, and the technical difficulty of
> digitising a journal. In terms of digitising, the Biodiversity Heritage
> Library seems the obvious organisation to help. A number of journals have
> made their back catalogue available to BHL for scanning, sometimes as part
> of a mixed strategy where recent articles are published by an organisation
> such as BioOne, and BHL has the back catalogue.
> Lastly, if anyone sees a journal that I have flagged as being mostly
> offline but it does, in fact, have a web presence, please let me know so I
> can add the links to BioNames.
> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> Tel:                    +44 141 330 4778
> Fax:            +44 141 330 2792
> Skype:          rdmpage
> Facebook:       http://www.facebook.com/rdmpage
> LinkedIn:       http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rdmpage
> Twitter:                http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog:           http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page:      http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
> Wikipedia:      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderic_D._M._Page
> Citations:
> http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=4Z5WABAAAAAJ
> ORCID:          http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7101-9767
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> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.

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

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