[Taxacom] taxonomic names databases

Paul Kirk P.Kirk at kew.org
Fri Sep 2 01:35:02 CDT 2016

OK, let me say it again - peer review is a myth. In that statement I mean it's never always as perfect as we want or imagine it to be, because perfection is also a myth. If an author is interested in 'brownie points' with an eye on a possible salary increase at the end of the year they go for a high impact factor journal to publish their manuscript, if not they set their sights lower, and there are journals out there falling over themselves for manuscripts to publish (never mind the quality, feel the width). And some journals ask the author for appropriate reviewers when a manuscript is submitted - isn't that the taxonomic equivalent of insider trading? I doubt that the WoRMS editors change classification on a whim - we are drowning in published trees right now and if the aforementioned editor sees a tree with a twig bearing a sequence tagged with a name they know in a family it's not currently placed in why wouldn't they adopt that new classification?

'What we want are experts at tracking and making sense of primary taxonomic literature' ... one persons 'sence' is another persons 'nonsense'. And tracking all the recent primary literature is impossible for most people because a proportion of it is behind a pay-wall.

OK, off my soapbox now and back to editing Index Fungorum :-)
From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Sent: 02 September 2016 02:07
To: Nico Franz; taxacom; Tony Rees
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] taxonomic names databases

Tony said "Also note that the individual sub-compilations within WoRMS are all individually citable (with appropriate authorship), it is merely for the entire collection that authorship is ascribed to the "WoRMS Editorial Board"

Which is again to confuse a compiler with an author! Biodiversity databases are (or should be) compilations and not creative novelties (created outside of peer review, with all the subjectivities that entails)! This is independent of other issues mentioned in this thread.


On Fri, 2/9/16, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] taxonomic names databases
 To: "Nico Franz" <nico.franz at asu.edu>, "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Friday, 2 September, 2016, 12:58 PM

 Hi Nico,

 I do see where you are coming
 from, it's just one point along a spectrum
 where I sit closer to the other end for
 pragmatic reasons ( :) ). Again,
 the example of (let us say, Eschmeyer's Catalog of
 Fishes or
 similar), while generally
 accepting his work as a "point of truth" if you
 like, that would not stop me from modifying a
 record obtained from there
 for my own system
 if I believed it was necessary (citing appropriate
 alternative sources etc.).

 Look, one can make (and we are making perhaps)
 a separate argument for a
 system which
 natively incorporates either a single, or a variety of
 alternative taxonomic viewpoints (the former is
 obviously easier to
 implement than the
 latter). Perhaps the latter more closely reflects the
 practices of active taxonomists, however there
 is also (I would contend) a
 clear desire for
 the latter - e.g. a "consensus classification",
 though this may change through time and
 its exact form be argued about -
 for a whole
 class of users of taxonomic data (clients of the system)
 need e.g. a management hierarchy by
 which to organise their information,
 preferably also one that will be taken up by
 others (such as let us say,
 angiosperms). OK, APGIII may not be perfect - and has
 been superseded by APGIV anyway -
 but at least you say if your [extant]
 angiosperm data are arranged according to
 APGIII, others will know what you
 talking about.

 From the
 "about WoRMS" page you cited:

 The classification used
 is a 'compromise' between established systems and
 recent changes. Its aim is to aid data
 management, rather than suggest any
 taxonomic or phylogenetic opinion on species

 Perhaps this is selling the system a little
 short - in my experience the
 various sector
 editors do try to incorporate recent changes, at least
 these seem to be evidence-based - but
 you will see a tacit acknowledgement
 here of
 the practical value of a single management hierarchy here,
 many users appreciate.

 Also note that the individual
 sub-compilations within WoRMS are all
 individually citable (with appropriate
 authorship), it is merely for the
 collection that authorship is ascribed to the "WoRMS

 Best - Tony

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