[Taxacom] Article 8 compliance

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Mar 30 11:30:56 CDT 2017

Hi John,

As the administrator of ZooBank, I have seen many such cases along the lines of what you describe.  Of course, this sort of thing is perfectly in keeping with the Amended ICZN Code, because the Code itself has no provisions related to terms such as "version of record", DOIs, pagination, etc.  The closest thing in the Code that might affect such cases is Art. 9.9, which states that "preliminary versions of works accessible electronically in advance of publication" are among the things that do not constitute a published work.  Unfortunately, this article has essentially no meaning, because it is circular (it essentially states that a work is not published before it is published -- because the word "published" and "publication" are both in the sense of the Code, not in the sense of common use of these words).

Although it has been said many times before on this list, I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that the core provisions of the Code were established in an era when paper-based publications were the primary mode of communication among scientists.  In such a paradigm, there were rarely subtly different alternate versions of the same "work", simply because of the cost of generating and distributing numerous physical copies.  When alternate versions did exist, they were usually unambiguously marked as such ("Second Edition", "Revised Edition", etc.).  In this context, it made perfect sense for published works to be the fundamental vehicle through which nomenclatural acts (including new names) were established.

Of course, starting around a decade or so ago, the paradigm of communication among scientists began to change dramatically, shifting from stacks of "thin slices of wood" (as my friend Paul Kirk likes to say) shipped all over the planet to information dissemination via the internet.  Pressure soon built on the Commission to Amend the Code to accommodate so-called "electronically published Works", and the Commission did the best it could to put some "Band-Aids" on the existing language of the Code to accommodate this major paradigm shift.  The Amendment for electronic publications was always considered a temporary fix to tide the community over until the 5th Edition of the Code took effect.  Frankly, I think it's worked much better than many of us expected it to; but of course it's still not perfect.  And it couldn't possibly have been perfect simply because any enforced version of the Code needs to be stable (i.e., it can't change every year lest confusion reign among the community), yet the paradigm of "publication" HAS been (and still is) very dynamic.

The point I'm trying to make is that what zoological taxonomists should do at this stage is voice their opinion about how the 5th Edition SHOULD be crafted to offer a more permanent/stable solution going forward.  My own opinion, after having spent nearly 20 years thinking very hard about this exact issue, is well established in the public record.  In short, I think the time has come when we should acknowledge the existence of the internet as the fundamental mechanism of communication and information dissemination among scientists (all humans, really), and rather than constantly struggle with the implications of this (first and foremost, the slippery, inconsistent, and dynamic paradigm of "publication"), we should craft the 5th Edition of the Code to embrace this.  We should separate the legalistic requirements of nomenclatural availability from the scientific practice of "publication" (paper or electronic), and develop a system (modelled after ZooBank, GenBank, and other similar online resources) that allows objective determination of availability, and establishes nomenclatural priority to the millisecond.

Apologies for the soap-box rant....


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences | Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology | Dive Safety Officer
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of
> John Noyes
> Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:33 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] Article 8 compliance
> Hi everyone,
> I thought it might be of interest to at least some of you with regards to changes
> of so-called versions of record and how some journals are doing this to make an
> article compliant with Article 8 of the ICZN.
> On several occasions recently I have noted that some journals that have
> changed their publication from print and e-publication to e-publication only,
> often without any indication that they have done so. In at least two cases, the
> new, e-only journals have published articles that included novel nomenclatural
> acts. The publisher stated on their web site and/or on the article itself that it was
> the final version/version  of record. In these cases the articles were not Article 8
> compliant as neither included evidence of preregistration on ZooBank. A while
> later (in both cases the following year) the publisher reissued the same article
> with the same DOI, journal title, volume and page numbers with a statement
> hidden away in the text that the article had been preregistered on ZooBank, thus
> changing the version of record (final version) and consequently the status of the
> new names proposed therein. Being the custodian of a well-used on-line
> taxonomic database I had initially included the new names in the database as
> unavailable because they were non-code compliant. Had I been unaware of the
> change to the so-called versions of record they would have remained that way.
> Luckily, during a subsequent visit to the publisher's web site I became aware of
> the changes. In such cases I believe that if a publisher changes the version of
> record in any way they must republish it as a separate article compiled in a
> different volume with different pagination and with a different DOI so that the
> correction does not go unnoticed. Has anyone else come across similar cases?
> John
> John Noyes
> Scientific Associate
> Department of Life Sciences
> Natural History Museum
> Cromwell Road
> South Kensington
> London SW7 5BD
> UK
> jsn at nhm.ac.uk
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