[Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Oct 7 23:44:40 CDT 2015

Lyubo said [quote]It will come from those who do not want to look outside their ivory towers even just to realize that the world around is changing.[unquote]

Then I can only assume that Lyubo would not be in favour of resisting climate change! :)


On Thu, 8/10/15, Lyubomir Penev <lyubo.penev at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign
 To: bayshark at exemail.com.au, "Martin Fikáček" <mfikacek at gmail.com>
 Cc: "Taxa com" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Thursday, 8 October, 2015, 3:15 PM
 Honestly, I've hesitated a
 lot before I decided to reply to a post written
 in such language. Obviously I have to, as far
 as the ZooKeys editorial
 policies are
 ​ ​
 Let me start
 with the overall misinterpretation of the ZooKeys
 policies and the role of ZooKeys
 editors. As you said (I guess you haven't
 been in your best mood to use such wording) 
 ZooKeys editors are "basically
 slaves with very limited decision power".
 Well, well, well....Sorry, but
 this is the first time I hear about a
 journal editorial management system that
 enslaves a human! All this
 notification systems do is to keep track on the progress of
 manuscript, inform the authors, reviewers
 and editors about changes in its
 send reminders about a task someone has committed to do and
 know you know that ALL decision power in ZooKeys is in the
 hands of the
 subject editors, even because
 you have used it for years. There is no - and
 never has been - a central authority in ZooKeys
 who takes a decision on a
 publication of a
 manuscript. It is the subject editors who do that.
 Nonetheless, subject editors can of course ask
 their colleagues or the
 Editor-in-Chief for
 opinion, if they consider necessary.
 In this particular case, the manuscript was
 written by two experienced
 reviewed by another three experienced dipterists and
 by a sixth experienced dipterist
 after two peer-review rounds. Two of the
 reviewers recommended "minor
 revisions" and one recommended
 Those who will read the article will note that
 the authors openly discuss
 the pros and cons
 of their approach, comment the relevant articles of the
 Code and are well aware about the reaction
 their article might provoke. It
 is also
 clear that this is an exceptional case they decided to
 submit for
 review and publication for
 reasons explained in the paper. It is also
 obvious that this case study was expected to
 open a scientific and ICZN
 discussion. Sadly, it rather provoked labeling of the kind
 "non-science", "good and bad
 entomologists", "crazy individuals"
 and so on.
 "danger for the future of taxonomy" will not come
 from ZooKeys nor from
 any other journal,
 Martin! It will come from those who do not want to look
 outside their ivory towers even just to realize
 that the world around is
 changing. How long
 ago it was when we were hearing the apocalyptic
 predictions on the forthcoming chaos in
 taxonomy caused by electronic
 How long we shall consider OTUs as non-existent just
 they are not named?
 Sad to hear that this paper
 was considered as "bad science published for
 publicity". I wish more journals had put
 such efforts in publicity for
 taxonomy as
 ZooKeys does. Probably the taxonomy wouldn't be in
 "danger" then.
 Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 11:44 AM, <bayshark at exemail.com.au>
 > https://www.facebook.com/martin.fikacek.7/posts/10206448754731807
 > I just resigned for
 the position of editor in ZooKeys for two reasons: by
 > the recent publication of a description of
 a new species based on photos
 > ZooKeys
 evidently decided for the direction of "bad science and
 > publicity" which is the
 direction I cannot support. In addition, they
 > recently introduced a new automatic system
 "bullying" editors, which now
 makes editors basically non-paid slaves with very limited
 decision power. I
 > simply cannot work
 for such a journal anymore. Sorry to everybody, and
 > thanks for years of author-editor
 > My letter to editors
 is attached below:
 Dear editors,
 > I was really shocked
 when I discovered the paper entitled "New species
 > without dead bodies: a case for photobased
 descriptions, illustrated by a
 > striking
 new species of Marleyimyia Hesse (Diptera, Bombyliidae) from
 > Africa" published few days
 ago in ZooKeys. The paper is exremely dangerous
 > for several aspects:
 > (1) It misuses the
 weak parts of the Code which were originally designed to
 > keep some very old names valid, which were
 described in historical
 > publications
 mostly in 18th century. In difference to what the authors
 > writing in the paper, this Article
 was not designed to solve the situation
 with lost holotypes, but to keep valid the names which were
 really based
 > only on illustrations in
 times when no rules were given as it concerns the
 > quality of taxonomic descriptions. Using
 the same Article for today is
 > really
 ridiculous attempt to use this Article to cheat the
 > Moreover,
 note the word "illustration" in the text of the
 Article (i.e. NOT a
 > photograph!!!)
 > (2) It makes a very
 dangerous precedence for future generations. Now
 > everybody may try to describe a new big
 insect (cetonid beetle, wasp,
 butterfly) based just on the photographs. I am sure good
 entomologists will
 > not do that, or
 would at least do that only once all needed characters
 > really visible. Unfortunately the
 entomology is full of crazy individuals
 focused only in describing new taxa and producing new names,
 no need to
 > give
 examples as everybody knows some of them. These individuals
 were difficult
 > to deal with even until
 now, basically producing chaos in taxonomy of
 > particular group and partly causing that
 taxonomy is often considered as
 non-scientific. You now opened a brand new way for these
 people how to do
 > even worse work!
 > (3) In my opinion
 neither the authors of the above paper, nor the editorial
 > board is evidently not aware of the reason
 why voucher specimen (holotype)
 > is
 needed when a species is describe. It is not because the
 author should
 > have it easy to
 illustrate all needed characters. It it because only the
 > specimen itself form a firm base for the
 name. All taxonomic work,
 identification of next specimens found etc. is in fact
 testing the
 > hypothesis that the
 specimens in your hand are conspecific with the
 > holotype.  To test that hypothesis, you
 may re-examine the holotype,
 > extract
 > new characters which were not stated or
 illustrated in the original
 > description
 etc. Testing the hypothesis and providing the way how to
 > falsify
 > it is what
 makes taxonomy a science! In case of the new South
 > species, nothing of this is
 possible - nobody will ever be able to test the
 > hypothesis that the specimens in hand are
 conspecific with the holotype
 > (and
 > no other characters will be ever known
 than those illustrated on the
 > photos).
 This basically moves this paper (and taxonomy in general)
 > OUT OF SCIENCE. Hence, this is a
 step backward, not an innovative way as
 > present it.
 I appreciate the effort of Pensoft and ZooKeys to try
 innovative ways of
 > taxonomic
 publishing. However, I would expect that you would think
 > your steps and decision properly,
 evaluating the possible risks of such
 steps for the future of taxonomy. I did not notice anything
 like that in
 > your actions and decisions
 within last months, including the publication of
 > the above paper. Editorial board is never
 consulted in such cases, and if
 > the
 editors provide their critique, this is rarely followed. In
 > you recently introduced a
 system of "bullying" the editors. I understand
 > all
 > these actions in
 the way that editors are just workers you use FOR FREE
 > are not paid for that), but never
 as partners with whom problematic things
 > should be discussed.
 > To sum up - by
 publishing the photo-based description of Marleyimyia,
 > ZooKeys moves into the position of
 journals trying to break up the good
 practices in taxonomy for the sake of publicity. Its not
 only "the border
 > of
 > taxonomic malpractice", it is in fact
 the "border of non-science". I do not
 > want to provide my time to the journal
 going in this really dangerous
 direction. That is why I am resigning immediatelly from the
 editorial board
 > of ZooKeys.
 > Thanks for
 > With best regards
 > Martin
 > Vratislav
 > (name) Vratislav
 Richard Eugene Maria John Baptist
 > (surname) of Bejšák (read as a
 > website: www.coleoptera.org
 > address: P.O.Box 3335
 , Redfern, NSW 2016
 > phone : +61
 > http://www.facebook.com/bayshark
 > alternate email: bayshark at ymail.com
 (to iPhone)
 > Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at:
 > http://taxacom.markmail.org
 > Celebrating 28 years
 of Taxacom in 2015.
 Dr. Lyubomir Penev
 Pensoft Publishers
 13a Geo Milev Street
 Sofia, Bulgaria
 Fax +359-2-8704282
 ww.pensoft.net <http://www.pensoft.net/journals>
 Publishing services for journals:
 Books published by Pensoft:
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 Find us on: Facebook
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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 Celebrating 28 years of
 Taxacom in 2015.

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