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

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Jan 13 12:44:47 CST 2017

On 1/13/17 9:38 AM, John Noyes wrote:
> Hi,
> 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.

Anonymity is the only thing that permits abuse. Eliminate people's 
ability to hide from scrutiny, and attempts at abuse will be nullified.
> 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.

Then those "very few cases" are exactly where your opinion is 
*necessary*, and needs to be ensured. How many new papers appear every 
year on encyrtids? Unless you're not seeing them all already, then this 
system would not increase the number of papers you have to review - and 
if you're NOT seeing all the encyrtid papers, then the taxonomic 
community is presently *losing the benefits* of your precise expertise, 
and that's unacceptable. I cannot imagine why you are defending the 
status quo if it means that experts are not getting to review all the 
works that they are qualified to review!
> I simply do not have that sort of time available. I am sure that would be the same for most reviewers.

I think that you seriously overestimate this problem, for at least the 
following reasons: (1) I am not talking about any absolute increase in 
the number of works being submitted for review worldwide, so - as above 
- if you are already seeing the majority of works for the taxa you are 
an expert on, your workload won't increase by much, since you get to 
choose which works to review and which ones to ignore. You get to do 
what you are comfortable doing; no more, no less. (2) The workload under 
this system is BEING SHARED with a greater number of people, so the 
amount of necessary work per reviewer is going to shrink; right now, if 
you get a paper to review, YOU personally have to fix every typo, YOU 
have to fix every grammatical error, YOU have to check every reference, 
and so forth - but with online review, only ONE referee has to fix any 
given problem and then it's done - the editing is done in real time, and 
tracked, and visible to all reviewers AND to the authors! There is no 
redundancy of effort, so collaborative review is *vastly* superior to 
having independent reviews.
>   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.

Because if you propose, say, a new encyrtid from Africa, then every 
taxonomist working in a collection with holdings of African Encyrtidae 
can go to their collection and see if they might have additional 
material of your new taxon. Under the status quo, you have no such 
ability to reach all those people, so you are pretty certain to be 
missing out on available material. No taxonomist, not even you, can 
routinely send loan solicitations to EVERY collection in the world - but 
if people at every collection in the world are subscribed to the 
registration venue (an explicit part of my proposal), then it DOES 
become part of the routine, and you have the OPPORTUNITY for each and 
every one of them to see your proposed new taxon, and *potentially* help 
you by offering additional specimens during the review process, so you 
can add new material before registration is finalized. True, that 
potential might not always be realized, but how can this possibly be 
construed as *worse* than the status quo??

The people who stand to experience the greatest "burden" under this 
system are people like me who are collection managers as well as 
potential referees - and I would LOVE to be getting our specimens into 
the hands of more taxonomists, working on more taxa. That's to 
everyone's *mutual benefit*. For people in our community working in 
smaller collections, this would be an immense potential boon in terms of 
exposure. In an era where we have to continually justify the maintenance 
of museum collections to bean-counters and administrators, why on earth 
would you so vocally and harshly oppose a proposal that would 
significantly increase the visibility and interconnectivity of the 
world's museums?? If you have a better idea, please do share it, but 
please don't forget how bad the status quo actually is, and the very 
real threats that our community faces, not the least of which is our 


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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