[Taxacom] taxonomic names databases

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Sep 2 18:12:21 CDT 2016

Unfortunately, that hope is about as hopeful as perfect peer review! For one thing, the aggregating process tends to keep the bad stuff floating.

On Sat, 3/9/16, Paul Kirk <P.Kirk at kew.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] taxonomic names databases
 To: "Nico Franz" <nico.franz at asu.edu>, "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>, "Tony Rees" <tonyrees49 at gmail.com>, "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Received: Saturday, 3 September, 2016, 10:43 AM
 #yiv9556798659 #yiv9556798659 -- P
 Sure, in an ideal world that would happen, but at the end
 of the day ... no pun intended (23:43 here) ... the best we
 can hope for is that the good stuff floats to the top and
 the bad stuff sinks.
 From: Stephen Thorpe
 <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Sent: 02 September 2016 23:32
 To: Nico Franz; taxacom; Tony Rees; Paul Kirk
 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] taxonomic names
 In this context, I am thinking of peer review as an
 opportunity for reviewers to catch problems before they are
 published. The fact that reviewers often let crap go through
 unchallenged is another problem altogether.
 On Fri, 2/9/16, Paul Kirk <P.Kirk at kew.org> wrote:
  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] taxonomic names databases
  To: "Nico Franz" <nico.franz at asu.edu>,
 "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>,
 "Tony Rees" <tonyrees49 at gmail.com>,
 "Stephen Thorpe"
 <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
  Received: Friday, 2 September, 2016, 6:35 PM
  #yiv4125607869 #yiv4125607869 -- P
  OK, let me say it again - peer review is a myth. In
  statement I mean it's never always as perfect as we
  or imagine it to be, because perfection is also a myth.
  an author is interested in 'brownie points' with
  eye on a possible salary increase
   at the end of the year they go for a high impact
  journal to publish their manuscript, if not they set
  sights lower, and there are journals out there falling
  themselves for manuscripts to publish (never mind the
  quality, feel the width). And
   some journals ask the author for appropriate reviewers
  a manuscript is submitted - isn't that the
  equivalent of insider trading? I doubt that the WoRMS
  editors change classification on a whim - we are drowning
  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
  it's not currently placed in why wouldn't they
  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
   of it is behind a pay-wall.
  OK, off my soapbox now and back to editing Index
  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
  Tony said
  "Also note that the individual sub-compilations
  WoRMS are all individually citable (with appropriate
  authorship), it is merely for the entire collection
  authorship is ascribed to the "WoRMS Editorial
  Which is again to confuse a compiler with an author!
  Biodiversity databases are (or should be) compilations
  not creative novelties (created outside of peer review,
  all the subjectivities that entails)! This is independent
  other issues mentioned
   in this thread.
  On Fri, 2/9/16, Tony Rees <tonyrees49 at gmail.com>
   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
   Fishes or
   similar), while generally
   accepting his work as a "point of truth" if
   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
   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
   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
   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,
   APGIII for
   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
   these seem to be evidence-based - but
   you will see a tacit acknowledgement
   here of
   the practical value of a single management hierarchy
   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
   Best - Tony

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