[Taxacom] nomen nuda and missing authors

Neal Evenhuis neale at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Aug 23 17:55:07 CDT 2018

We here in Hawaii have a similar problem in that a dissertation was done revising the large and speciose genus Scotorhythra (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) but the student never published the dissertation and has now left the country to be a teacher in the UK and supposedly has no intention of ever publishing it. What to do??? Well...

There has been a change in the ICZN Code from the 1985 (3rd edition - red book) to the current 2000 (4th edition - green book) with regard to Article 9 (what does not constitute a publication) and specifically theses.

- Article 9(11) of the 1985 Code stated that documents deposited in a library or archive (e.g., a thesis) is not a publication.
- Article  9 of the 2000 (current) Code does not have that item listed any longer. There is, however, an item (Article 9.7) that specifies that copies obtained on demand [such as those obtained via the former Dissertations International] do not constitute publication. But there is nothing that specifies that a thesis that is published with ink on paper with multiple copies issued simultaneously and is available for free or by purchase does not constitute a publication.

Of course, this has engendered discussion from those who maintain such works as dissertations and theses still do not merit publication status and those who do. If the work in question in this case has a disclaimer that the new names it in are not for the permanent scientific record, then it is not. If there is no such disclaimer, then it falls into the potential of being a valid publication according to the current Code.


From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>> on behalf of "Michael A. Ivie" <mivie at montana.edu<mailto:mivie at montana.edu>>
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 12:26 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] nomen nuda and missing authors

While we are talking about making names available without impinging on
the work of others, I have a question about the morals of a situation
that I think comes up relatively often.

Stephen Wayne Nichols published a paper on scaratine carabids in
Liebherr's 1988 book on West Indian Biogeography, and used several nomen
nuda.  The work had photos and distribution maps, and it is sometimes
possible to figure out what the names go with.  He then finished a
dissertation at Cornell, also in 1988, in which he fully treated the
names with descriptions and repositories, but never published it.  A
couple years later, he simply disappeared. He seems to have
intentionally disappeared from all entomology related aspects of his
former life.  I was an office mate and fellow grad student with Steve,
and considered him a good friend, so this is not hearsay.

These nomen nuda have made their way into the literature, along with
some new combinations and other details.  I need to use the information
in his dissertation, but the names are unavailable, and I don't want to
validate them under my name.  Is it moral to submit a paper under his
name with the minimum data needed to validate the names? Would an editor
even allow such? Should they? What about lifting passages from the
dissertation and putting them in a paper authored by myself, but
attributing the names to Nichols? Can I do that without permission?

Any ideas?

Mike Ivie


Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

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