[Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of specimen records from BOLD

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Sep 22 16:02:56 CDT 2015

Hi Lyubo,

Your comments again illustrate an "odd" conception to what peer review is all about. Peer review isn't about preventing the unnecessary renaming of a species which has already been named in an old and obscure journal. That is a small problem, which can happen, and we have ways to deal with it easily enough after the fact (i.e. synonymy, or suppression of the older name when appropriate). It is actually better for a reviewer not to be an expert in the particular taxa involved. A manuscript needs to be understandable by readers without detailed knowledge in the particular taxa involved. Often, these general readers will pick up on problems in the manuscript that experts don't see, due to a sort of mental "auto-complete" which can cause the latter to read what they think the author is probably saying, rather than what they are actually saying. Ideally, any scientific paper should be written in such a way as to be understood (in broad terms, not details) by
 any scientist. One of the main criteria ought to be internal consistency. For example, a  recent paper in Systematic Entomology, on the beetle genus Syrphetodes, had illustrations that contradicted the descriptions, and other such inconsistencies. Worse, publishers appear to have no motivation to publish corrections...



On Tue, 22/9/15, Lyubomir Penev <lyubo.penev at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of specimen records from BOLD
 To: "Taxa com" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>, "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Received: Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 7:07 PM
 The "objectivity of
 peer-review" is a long, long discussion - please allow
 me to escape from diving into it. A neglectful reviewer will
 most likely produce a negligent review, does no matter who
 invites him or her. 
 A description of a new species
 might be perfectly prepared (imagine, for example, that such
 description has also fully sequenced genome, marvelous
 drawings, beautiful  photos, microCT, etc.). A taxonomist
 who is not a specialist in the group would most probably
 say: "Great work, publish as it is!" Another
 taxonomist, however, probably a member of a "small
 research community",  could say something different,
 for example: "Look, this species has been described in
 a poorly-known work of someone in 1837 and I've seen
 then type, it is still there. Do not describe it, someone
 should spend the effort to synonimize it thereafter. Or, if
 you want to utilize your efforts, then re-describe
 What I forgot to mention in my post
 (my fault, sorry!) is that we are considering to publish
 author-solicited final review statements  together with the
 article (the reviewer will be warned about this of course).
 What I also probably did not clarify well is that the author
 can consider reviewer's comments still during the
 authoring process (like in Google Docs comment/reply style),
 that is to submit in fact a revised and improved version,
 which on its turn, might undergo additional post-submission
 review, if the editor finds this necessary. Why taking so
 long for post-submission revisions, re-submissions, new
 revisions, etc. when most of it can be done while
 I would argue that pre-submission
 review will rather increase the quality of taxonomic
 publications. Will such evaluation system be used by the
 authors? We have to wait to see, but in fact it is being
 used for centuries, for example when a manuscript is
 discussed in research groups, departments or societies
 before submission to a journal. Why not making this process
 easy and efficient via online tools, which in addition also
 would record the discussions through versioning?
 Best regards,
 On Mon, Sep 21, 2015
 at 11:16 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Lyubo said:
 >This feature might be especially useful for taxonomists
 working in small research communities formed around taxa of
 >interest. In such communities it is almost a norm that
 all know each other and the so called "blind" and
 "independent" >review is usually neither of the
 two, but only slows down formal publication of species
 descriptions, nomenclatural >acts, checklists, etc.
 My following comment is in no way a criticism of
 Lyubo in particular, but rather a general criticism of a
 fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of peer review.
 There is absolutely no reason why peer review should be
 limited to any "small research community" in
 taxonomy. Any taxonomist should be able to review any
 manuscript by any other taxonomist. Peer review never, or
 hardly ever, looks at the fine taxonomic details of the
 case. It only reviews how clearly set out and therefore easy
 to understand a manuscript is. Ironically, if peer review is
 limited to small communities, even this basic review of
 clarity is often not done. Since the reviewer often knows
 the author (as a colleague), they often just seem to just
 assume that the manuscript will be fine, even when it
 isn't! I have a slight suspicion (though little more
 than a speculation) that this is actually what Lyubo wants
 to see happen, as it will speed things up, and he can still
  claim that peer review has taken place! However, that is
 probably not a particularly unusual attitude for a publisher
 these days. They, like most other people these days, measure
 their success in terms of quantity rather than quality. I do
 not share this philosophy.
 On Tue, 22/9/15, Lyubomir Penev <lyubo.penev at gmail.com>
  Subject: [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online
 import of specimen    records from BOLD
  To: "Taxa com" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
  Received: Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 2:28 AM
  Dear Taxacommers,
  I would like to point your attention to some new features
  and tools that might
  be of prime interest to taxonomists. Feedback would be
  1) Pre-submission peer-review: The authors preparing
  manuscripts for
  the Biodiversity Data Journal <http://bdj.pensoft.net> 
 can now invite
  reviewers to look through the
 manuscript still during the
  authoring process
  in the ARPHA Writing Tool <http://pwt.pensoft.net/>
 (the former Pensoft
  Writing Tool, or PWT). After
 submission, in case the subject
  respects the pre-submission reviews (s/he can also invite
  reviews, if needed) and accepts the manuscript, the
  can be published
  within just a couple of days. This feature might be
  especially useful for
  taxonomists working in small research communities formed
  around taxa of
  interest. In such communities it is almost a norm that
  know each other
  and the so called "blind" and
 "independent" review is
  usually neither of
  the two, but only slows down formal publication of
  nomenclatural acts, checklists, etc.
  This feature can be used on author's choice, otherwise
  manuscript will
  go for the usual post-submission review.
  2) Online import of specimen records in​to manuscripts
  from the
  Barcode-of-Life data platform (BOLD <http://www.boldsystems.org/>).
  this the author needs to
 place either a BIN number or
  individual record
  identifier(s) in the respective field and press a button.
  The records will
  appear in the manuscript in seconds and the author can
  on these
  further, e.g. assign type status (in case the BIN clearly
  corresponds to a
   new species), name the species, add other necessary
  (description, diagnosis, etymology, etc.) and proceed
  peer-review and
  publication. In case the number of voucher specimen
  belonging to a BIN is
  too high, one can import individual records as well. In
  near future the
  feature will also be available for importing specimen
  records from GBIF and
  The purpose of the tools is to streamline publication of
  descriptions, re-descriptions of poorly-known barcoded
  species, other
  taxonomic/nomenclatural novelties, and link publications
  records  already
  available from large data platforms. Ideally, this kind
  published data
  is expected to be of high quality, because taxonomists
  used to include
  in publications only those specimens they or their
  co-authors have studied
  personally, but also because the data records will be
  peer-reviewed in an online collaborative environment. The
  workflow is
  expected to help also for the integration of the Linnean
  Dr. Lyubomir Penev
  Managing Director
  Pensoft Publishers
  13a Geo Milev Street
  1111 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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  Celebrating 28 years of Taxacom in 2015.
 Lyubomir Penev
 Managing Director
 Pensoft Publishers
 13a Geo Milev Street
 1111 Sofia, Bulgaria
 Fax +359-2-8704282
 Publishing services for journals: http://www.pensoft.net/services-for-journals
 Books published by Pensoft: http://www.pensoft.net/books-published-by-Pensoft
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