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

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Sep 22 19:01:55 CDT 2015


It is a tad unclear what point you are trying to make, and if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me (which, incidentally, is exactly the sort of thing that a reviewer should address for manuscripts, i.e. clarifying the point that the author is trying to make). Whatever your point, I would just like to comment that, for me, the most important thing is not to publish what I know so that others can know it as well (which is not to say that this isn't important), but rather to prevent readers from being misled by misinformation published by others, particularly if it contradicts what I might tell them, and yet the misinformation is selling itself as authoritative on the basis of "reputability" of institutions, equally carefully "groomed" reputations of authors, etc. Misinformation is worse than no information.

Cheers, Stephen

On Wed, 23/9/15, Robin Leech <releech at telus.net> wrote:

 Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of	specimen records from BOLD
 To: "'Stephen Thorpe'" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>, "'Doug Yanega'" <dyanega at ucr.edu>
 Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Wednesday, 23 September, 2015, 11:37 AM
 Shortly after I had finished
 my PhD, and the thesis had been accepted for publication,
 I had finished and had published several
 short but contributive papers in a fairly 
 short period of time in several journals. To
 me, getting the information out there was, 
 and always is to me, far more important than
 the particular journal I publish in.
 At that time, I was in Ottawa. At coffee one
 morning, an older, estblished taxonomist 
 said to me, in front of others, 
 "Robin, what are you
 doing?  Setting yourself up as an expert?  Everywhere I
 look I 
 see another new paper of
 I replied,
 "Not at all. I am trying to put the information out
 there so that others 
 know what I know, so
 that they do not have to ask me for IDs. They can look and
 things for themselves."
 There was a moment while he
 and several of his buddies guffawed, then I added, 
 "But, on the other hand,
 if you don't publish much, everyone has to send material
 to you for ID.  In that case, you are seen
 as the expert."
 heard no more caustic comments from him - ever.  In fact,
 he became rather pleasant
 after that.
 -----Original Message-----
 From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
 On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
 September-22-15 4:03 PM
 To: Doug Yanega
 Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Pre-submission
 peer-review and online import of specimen records from
 I wouldn't take
 too much notice of Doug's sermon about Wikipedia. It
 works OK for very simple stuff, but not for anything else.
 It isn't only vandals and/or crackpots who get blocked
 from editing. There are many "power games" going
 on behind the scenes. Everybody wants to do things their
 way, and nobody likes anyone coming in and making
 contributions on a significantly large scale. Actually very
 little taxonomy/biodiversity related stuff gets done now at
 all on Wikipedia. Doug's own contributions are really
 loittle more than a drop in an ocean of oceans! The reason
 why it comes up first in a Google search has nothing
 whatsoever to do with the quality of content. It is
 unfortunate that the very first thing a young person might
 find on a topic could well be a load of Wikipedia
 On Wed, 23/9/15, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
  Subject: Re:
 [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of
 specimen records from BOLD
  Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu"
 <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
  Received: Wednesday, 23 September, 2015, 9:38
  On 9/22/15 12:50 PM,
  Evenhuis wrote:
 No Doug, the problem is
  not the print
 journals. They do what businesses do
 -- they make money.
 > The problem(s) are
  academic systems
 that evaluate their professors on the
 basis of the journals they publish in (the
 higher impact the better). That
  > has
  resulted in the "Big Power
 Publishers" to have
  academics by
  > short-and-curlies
 (actually more like racketeering) and can thus charge
  > oodles of money to subscribe and
  are forced to shy away from
  > online
  only/low impact
 journals in order to get high ranking,
  > evals, etc.
  > Once the evaluation
  system for taxonomists changes, taxonomists
 can feel
  > free to publish elsewhere
 than high impact
  print journals because
 they are
  > no
 being held hostage by the current academic evaluation
  I'm not trying to
 be overly
  contentious, as I do see your
 point, but: 
  can anyone offer any
 statistics to back this
  up? Specifically,
 if you 
  ignore fossil taxa
 entirely, just for the moment, what percentage of all 
  cumulative taxonomic works, worldwide,
  in legitimately "high 
  journals? My
 impression is that it is a very small
  in fact, for many of the
  taxonomists I know (mostly working on 
  arthropods), if they stopped publishing in
  their present journals of 
 choice and
  switched to, say, Zootaxa or
 ZooKeys, their impact factor
  would probably go UP rather than down. I
  honestly don't think I've ever 
  heard of a taxonomist (who did not work on
  fossils) whose job was 
 imperiled by the low
  impact factor of their
 publications, as opposed to 
  how much grant
 money they brought in, or some
  other less
  criteria. As such,
  while I have little doubt it exists, I have to
  just how serious a force this is
 behind our
  present predicament.
  > How does the
 "peer", as in "peer review", play in
 still-vaguely-described "open
 access" process ?
  > What mechanism(s) would be needed /
  to deal with the presumably huge
  > number
 "reviews" of also-presumably
 still-not-published draft documents ?
  > It's easy enough
  to say that poor quality reviews can simply be
  > can be
 put to rest handily by other,
 competent reviewers. But, that
  itself implies that there will be such more
  reviewers who will
  > indeed have the time
 patience to read, think about, and comment on
  > those incompetent reviews.
  > I understand --I
  think!?!-- the notion of removing physical
 paper from the
  > final production
 process, and I understand
  --I think-- the
 notion of "open
 access" to information.
  > What I am asking about is what will be
  mechanisms to address the
  > then-open
  floodgates to
 gratuitous(?) commentary on draft works such
  that a
  > "fair"
  authoritative / professional) handling
 of all that input
 possible ?
  Open resources
 like Wikipedia deal with this
  easily, and
 admirably, and 
  routinely. Any
  Wikipedia article has one visible
 manifestation, open to 
  editing, while
 commentary goes on a linked
 page". The editing 
  is timestamped, and visible, and subject to
 reversion to 
  previous versions if
 necessary - as is the talk
  page. There are
  rules in place
 regarding proper editing procedures and especially 
  etiquette, and editors who cannot abide by
  those rules (e.g., vandalism) 
  have their
  edits reverted, or
 if they are persistent and disruptive,
  they can be banned (short-term or
  long-term), as has happened to many 
  and crackpots who have
 tried to set up shop on Wikipedia.
  kind of behavior is spotted and weeded
  out very quickly, because there 
  are lots of
  eyes watching.
 The floodgates on Wikipedia are already open
  - to the entire world, in
 fact - and yet it
  functions quite well, 
  because it is
 based on explicit policies. Transparency 
 and inclusivity go a long way, and synergize
  well. Articles on WP 
 increase in quality,
  ratchet-like, over
 time, and setbacks are always 
 temporary. If you had a single public
 review forum that included 
  all of the
  world's taxonomists, then it would
 function wonderfully
  because nothing would slip through
  the proverbial cracks, and if we 
  the example of
 Wikipedia for editing policies, your worst
  about gratuitous commentary would
  be realized.
  I suggest this
  challenge for
 those of you who are skeptical: take a 
 moment right now to enter the name of a
 higher-level taxon you know very 
  (family or higher) into Google. The odds are
 very good that
 Wikipedia entry will be the top hit, or
 least one of the top 5. Open 
  Wikipedia article, and see how much of it is
 (not incomplete - that is
  unavoidable - or
 slightly out-of-date, I mean 
 factual errors as in "this is not
 now and never has been 
  true"). It
  should be pretty rare to find such errors, and
 it would be
  even rarer if
 more taxonomists spent more
  time on
  Self-policing is an
  approach that can and does work, and works
  and better with increasing
 community buy-in. I
  maintain that the same
  would apply to
 review of scientific works.
  Doug Yanega     
 Dept. of Entomology 
 Research Museum
  Univ. of California,
 Riverside, CA 92521-0314 
  phone: (951)
 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
     "There are some enterprises
  in which a careful disorderliness
     is the true
 method" - Herman Melville,
  Moby Dick,
 Chap. 82
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