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

Robin Leech releech at telus.net
Tue Sep 22 19:22:21 CDT 2015


If you publish good stuff, people will continue to use it, often after newer
works are published.
Usually good works are built on, either later by the same author, or by
other authors.  As errors 
or misinformation is found and uncovered, one or more authors will
subsequently identify the errors
or misinformation, and comment on it for others. In the future, others will
follow the correction.

If you want an example of this, I can provide it for you. In turn, you can
check on all the details 
yourself.  We no longer labor on the error.  It was found, noted and

As the expression goes, Fecal material happens.


-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz] 
Sent: September-22-15 6:02 PM
To: 'Doug Yanega'; Robin Leech
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of
specimen records from BOLD


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  yours." 
 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  ID  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  BOLD
 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  rubbish.
 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  AM
  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,  appear
  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  wonder
  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  ignored,
  > can be
 put to rest handily by other,
 competent reviewers. But, that
  itself implies that there will be such more  competent
  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  the
  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  legitimately
 (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  better
  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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