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

John Noyes j.noyes at nhm.ac.uk
Fri Jan 13 11:38:51 CST 2017


In that case it cannot possibly work. The whole system would be far too subjective and will be putting far too much pressure on reviewers. It will also be open to abuse. I review a lot of papers and  could not possibly comment on the validity of any species/genera being described as new except in very few cases. I simply do not have that sort of time available. I am sure that would be the same for most reviewers. Also, you would have to define what you mean by a terrible type specimen. In all likelihood you could not possibly know if better material can easily be obtained or whether other possible type material was available. No let's nip this one in the bud before it gets any sort of credence. What you are advocating could lead to terrible instability because there is a danger that most taxonomists would just ignore it because it is unworkable.

There are many. Many other reasons that I can see as to why it should be a non-starter. 

Let's try to get simple available/not available sorted out before we start going along that road.


John Noyes
Scientific Associate
Department of Life Sciences
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD 
jsn at nhm.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229

Universal Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about chalcidoids and more):

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
Sent: 13 January 2017 17:21
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] "Taxon Filter" (was Re: Electronic publication)

On 1/13/17 2:13 AM, John Noyes wrote:
> Hi Adam,
> I totally agree. The danger in what Rich, Doug and others is advocating is that papers will be rejected by those that have an alternative view. Is the proposed system to deal with nomenclatural acts alone or is it intended to comment on the quality of  taxonomy? There  is a danger that it may put all the power in the hands of a few which would inevitably lead to a total breakdown of the system.
WHOA. You have this exactly backwards. When there are dozens to hundreds of reviews, all made public, then it is no longer possible for a few people to control *anything*. Any cliques, any personal grievances, will be fully visible to the entire community. Think about it for just a second, and consider that the status quo DOES focus editorial control into the hands of a tiny number of people - who are absolutely protected from accountability through anonymity. That's precisely why we desperately need to move away from the present system of "peer review" - it is FAR too subject to manipulation without accountability. If the "alternative view" you're worried about is an ignorant minority view, or a crackpot, the flaws in their viewpoint will be exposed and get the rapid rejection and condemnation it deserves. I have confidence that we, as a community, can recognize unjustified opinions when we see them, and come to a rational consensus, rather than letting one or two people sway a decision unfairly for or against a submitted work.

And yes, even though the purpose of the proposed system is to eliminate uncertainty regarding the availability of names, it does need to at least make a sincere attempt to assess the validity of names, as well. 
There is NO REASON to accept the registration of a proposed name that is a homonym; there is NO REASON to accept a name that is an obvious synonym; there is NO REASON to accept a name that is being proposed against the wishes of the person who discovered the taxon being named; there is NO REASON to accept a name based on a tiny fraction of the available material, or a terrible type specimen, when additional and/or better material can easily be obtained. Those specific problems are virtually unmanageable under the present, inferior protocol that we call peer review (every single one of these issues keeps coming up in present-day publications, even in prominent journals, and that's unacceptable), and it is time we adopted a higher standard, to everyone's collective benefit. Taxonomy is often viewed as a laughing stock by other disciplines because we have no mandated standards for quality control. So, let's do something about mandating quality control
- and it should start, logically, with not accepting names for things that cannot be shown to be valid taxa, and putting the review process in the hands of the community rather than two or three anonymous reviewers.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
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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