[Taxacom] Electronic publication

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Jan 11 20:42:55 CST 2017

Hi John,

> In the sense of what I was writing I meant the date (day month year) to be
> mandatory for electronic publications. This would be ultimately easier than
> printed versions because the publication would actually be a single act, i.e.
> making the article available on the web. For printed stuff this is more difficult
> because I do not think there is a single useable definition of when a work is
> published, e.g. is it published when the fifth copy rolls off the printing press,
> or when it leaves the printers, or when it arrives at the publishers, etc. There
> are probably a myriad of ways that printed copies could be defined as being
> published. Electronic versions can be more precise (as you stated).

OK, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree here.  My read of the "date" requirement for electronic publications does not indicate that it must be a "complete date". My read of Art 21.3, "Date incompletely specified", is that it a "date" (in the sense of the code) is still a "date", even if it is "incompletely specified".  As such, an incompletely specified date fulfills the requirement for a "date" to be included within electronic works.  Similarly, "Date incorrect" of Art 21.4 implies that an incorrectly stated date is still a "date" in the sense of the Code, so even if the "date" included in an electronic work is both incomplete and incorrect, it fulfills the requirement of Art. 8.5.2 because, by my read at least, both "incomplete dates" and "incorrect dates" are still "dates" in the sense of the Code.

> I think you know that I agree with your model - simply put
> "Registered=Available". However, there would still need to be a "published"
> model as we would still have to have pointers (journal, volume, pages)  or
> links to where nomenclatural acts occur and that is part of the problem
> unless you mean that all that should also be included in ZooBank and freely
> accessible. 

What I mean is that ALL information necessary to represent a nomenclatural act (new name or otherwise) would be included within the open-access registration record, and the successful completion of that record (by whatever requirements the community/Commission decides when designing it) would itself constitute the "work" that establishes the name/act.  MOST of the information included in PDF publications is NOT necessary to establish new names or acts.  Therefore, that extraneous information (usually having to do with taxonomy, not nomenclature) would NOT need to be included in the ZooBank record. 

Designing such a system would allow us to simultaneously raise the quality bar for what is required information in establishing a new act/name (e.g., explicit type designations, unambiguous timestamps, possibly peer review, possibly an image of the holotype, etc.) AND simultaneously eliminating all the mess caused by trying to pin down accurate information about published works.  Scientists would still continue to publish their taxonomic science (because they would need to in order to establish and maintain their scientific reputations, get tenure, and all the other reasons that scientists in all fields publish their research). The only difference would be the legal act of availability would be transferred to the registration record, rather than the publication (or publication + registration record).

Coming back to the GenBank analogy:  to register a sequence in GenBank, you must provide a bunch of metadata along with the sequence.  That yields a GenBank registration number, which authors then cite within their publications that address the science associated with the sequence.  Similarly with names, all the metadata necessary for documenting new names and acts would be included among the metadata in the ZooBank registration record, which authors could cite within their publications that address the science associated with the relevant taxonomy.

> I have always advocated that it should be mandatory for all
> publications including nomenclatural acts to be stored on ZooBank as PDF's
> (whatever) and freely available. 

I think that would be great!  And it was discussed extensively at the time the Amendment for electronic publications was being drafted.  But it was eventually abandoned as a requirement (at this stage) due to copyright concerns.  What I am saying is we should remove the "publication" entirely from the process for making new names and acts available, and the role that the publication has fulfilled these past 250+ years would be replaced by the registration entry.


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