[Taxacom] "Taxon Filter" (was Re: Electronic publication)

Hinrich Kaiser chalcopis at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 12 12:49:38 CST 2017

I think it really would be very helpful to test out a "Taxon Filter" system, and perhaps herpetology, where some of the most egregious and most recent problems with "unfiltered taxa" have occurred, could be a suitable testing ground. Perhaps the Commission could create an ad hoc Committee for testing the Taxon Filter concept in herpetology, perhaps with the active participation of the World Congress of Herpetology.
When I outlined Doug's idea, I intended it to allow "working backwards" to some degree as well as working forwards, thus allowing revisions of problematic taxonomic issues at their root, and with binding effect on the nomenclature, to allow older problems to pile up to the detriment of newer projects.
Of course, the minutiae of the process can be set up when there is a formal agreement to do this, but the way I see this now, the single-location registration process is a precursor to publication. I am sure Doug and I have both tweaked things a little in our minds, but here is how I see this in reality.
1. A Taxon Filter registration structure is set up under the auspices of the ICZN. This system includes a SINGLE portal for submission of manuscript that include taxonomic decisions.
2. An author submits a complete manuscript (including text, tables, figures, literature, and any supplemental files - in other words, the whole enchilada) into the system and indicates relevant key words in preset categories, such as country, taxon, type of taxonomic decision etc. (many of which could be streamlined via drop-down menus).
3. Upon acceptance of the manuscript into the system (NOTE: "Acceptance" here does NOT mean acceptance of the taxonomic decision(s), only of the files), users who have declared themselves interested in matching key words are immediately notified via email, and all submissions are also posted on the portal's site, sorted by taxon and date and time (thus allowing direct browsing).
4. Submission starts the clock for the review period of however many days we decide (maybe 30 days is sufficient). Those potentially interested have been asked to comment, and one could leave it at that. If I were an author, I would also send out my own message to those individuals I consider knowledgable on a particular taxon to ensure that the proposed taxonomic decisions receive a good vetting.
5. Once a minimum number of reviewers provides their positive opinions on the submission, or if the review period ends with fewer than the minimum number of reviews, then the name becomes registered and receives whatever seal of approval the portal provides. Perhaps this is a taxon code of some sort as proof that the decision(s) was(were) vetted. If a submission does not receive such support, then the authors can resubmit an improved version, or they can withdraw their paper - no harm done. The process is archived, so a "resubmission" of an identical manuscript can be recognized.
6. The manuscript can NOW be submitted to a journal, whose editorial team has agreed to fast-track manuscripts that have received approval via the Taxon Filter system.
7. The paper is eventually published, and instead of having the taxon name listed with a set of authors, it could be listed with the Taxon Filter code.
I imagine that this process would not only allow for better taxonomy and for nomenclature that is more stable from the get-go, it would also further the willingness of people to work together (well, it would force it to some extent), it would make the process more transparent, and it would allow granting agencies and institutions an added insight into how an applicant or researcher interacts with members of their respective taxonomic community. Some will balk at that, but they'll get used to it - because we'll all benefit.

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