Report of the Special Committee on Electronic Publishing and Databasing

                         Richard H. Zander 1 & Karen L. Wilson 2

1 Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14211 U.S.A.

2 National Herbarium of New South Wales, Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs

Macquaries Road, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000 Australia. 

 

 

     The charge of the Special Committee was "to examine the impact of

electronic publishing and databasing on the Code" (Nicolson 1994). The

Convener was K. Wilson and the Secretary was R. H. Zander, with D. H. Nicolson

and W. Greuter as ex officio members. The membership voting on the items in

this final report were B. Baum (Ottawa), W. Berendsohn (Berlin), A.

Chapman (Canberra), M. Crosby (St. Louis), P. Da'vila Aranda (Mexico

City), T. Daniel (San Francisco), E. Farr (Washington), N. Hind (Kew),

P. Kirk (Egham, England), R. Moe (Berkeley), A. Orchard (Canberra), P.

van Welzen (Leiden), K. Wilson (Sydney), and R. Zander (Buffalo,

U.S.A.). A minimum of 8 votes of the 14 voting was required for

recommendation by this Committee that a proposal to amend the Code be

accepted. Discussions and exchange of information was largely by

Internet mail exploder, implemented through the kindness of P. Bristow

of Charles Sturt University, Australia. 

 

     Background information pertinent to possible changes in the Code is

vast, technical and quickly changing. Some Committee members expressed

the following opinion: the possibilities of electronic publication are

so impressive and complex and evolving so rapidly that it would be

futile to try to make recommendations about means and processes. When

electronic journals have been published for a few more years, informed

decision will be possible. Although it seems clear that the Internet

will become an appropriate medium for international communication, at

present there are still unresolved questions about the stability of

electronic publication. 

 

     1. How can an electronic publication be archived in a form that will

remain readable by future hardware and software? 

 

     2. How can an original version be protected from changes? 

 

     3. How can each publication be uniquely identified for access purposes? 

 

     These questions are being answered by librarians, archivists, and

publishers, in concert with computer experts, but the solutions have not

yet been widely implemented. We should allow time for those with

appropriate expertise to formulate long-term guidelines. Additional

questions directly relevant to the Code include the definition of a

"page" on which a new name appears. The Committee recognizes that the

pace of biodiversity loss demands that nomenclatural publication be

facilitated, but most members think that it is premature to allow

electronic publication of new names. 

 

     Some members think that one or more electronic journals in which names

could be effectively published should be designated or established as a

trial. These journals might be paired with paper publications to be

deposited in a limited number of botanical institutions prepared to

supply copies to those without electronic access. Such a trial, to be

begun soon, is especially important when it is appreciated that

Botanical Congresses, at which the rules governing effective publication

can be changed, occur only every six years, which is a very long

interval compared with the pace of technological change. These members

suggest providing a loophole in the Code that allows online electronic

publication of new names in online journals conditional on (1) eventual

recognition by a particular Committee, perhaps the General Committee,

that these particular electronic journals have met well specified long-

term criteria for standardization of document archiving, authentication

and reference, and (2) subsequent ratification at the next International

Botanical Congress. 

 

     The following summarizing statements or recommendations to amend the

Code were compiled by Zander and Wilson from various shared opinions,

and each was voted on separately by the Committee. 

 

1. The 1999 St. Louis Nomenclatural meeting is too early to consider

allowing electronic publication (either online or on distributable

media) of new taxa because of the present lack of standardized

electronic archiving (long-lasting media or identified repositories),

document authentication (no tampering), and document identification (for

easy searches) that can be relied upon through the next many decades,

and because some countries are presently not well networked. 

 

     Yes 11, No 3 (Recommended). 

 

2. By the time of the next International Botanical Congress after St.

Louis, standards for archiving and accessing electronic publication of

nomenclatural novelties will doubtlessly have been established by

librarians and publishers. At the St. Louis meetings, a new Special

Committee should be established or the current one should be continued

to monitor progress in these areas and make recommendations. 

 

     Yes 13, No 1 (Recommended). 

 

3. Electronic publishing will prove an important way to enhance and

speed the nomenclatural portion of the study of biological diversity. To

this end, we suggest amending Article 29 to specifically mention

electronic publishing amongst the forms currently EXCLUDED from

effective publication, with a sentence added to the effect that the IAPT

believes effective electronic publication is inevitable, and it is

therefore monitoring progress on developments in the field of electronic

publishing and archiving. 

 

     Change the second sentence of Art. 29.1 from "It is not effected by

communication of new names at a public meeting, by the placing of names

in collections or gardens open to the public, or by the issue of

microfilm made from manuscripts, type-scripts or other unpublished

material." TO "It is not effected by communication of new names at a

public meeting, by the placing of names in collections or gardens open

to the public, by the issue of microfilm made from manuscripts, type-

scripts or other unpublished material, BY PUBLICATION ONLINE, OR BY

DISSEMINATION OF DISTRIBUTABLE ELECTRONIC MEDIA." 

 

     Yes 12, No 2 (Recommended). 

 

4. Because alterations to the Code are only considered every six years

at International Botanical Congresses and critical biodiversity studies

would be immediately enhanced with World Wide Web publication, we should

seriously examine changing the Code to allow one or more particular

journals, when they have achieved well specified criteria for

standardization of document archiving, authentication and reference to

be a place of effective publication of nomenclatural novelties. 

 

     Change Art. 29: Add the following paragraph 29.2: "The General Committee

may designate one or more        online electronic journals as suitable

vehicles for publication of nomenclatural novelties after positive

evaluation by a Special Committee of their adherence to established

standards of electronic document archiving, authentication and

identification, including a sure method of ascertaining exact date of

publication, through notice in the journal Taxon. This action would need

to be ratified at the next International Botanical Congress." 

 

     Change Art. 31.1: After "printed matter" add "or authorized electronic

publication (see 29.2)."

 

     Change Art. 32.2: Add after existing sentence: "If electronic

publication of names is authorized (see Art. 29.2), then registration of

such names is to be effected by sending an appropriate copy of that

publication to one of the registering offices designated for this

purpose by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy."

 

     Change Art. 32.2. Note 1: Add "Reference to pagination is optional for

full and direct reference to place of publication for names in

electronic publications authorized as acceptable for effective

publication of new names."

 

     Change Art. 33.2: Add "Reference to pagination is optional for full and

direct reference to place of publication for names in electronic

publications authorized as acceptable for effective publication of new

names."

 

     All other references to pagination in the Code should be qualified as

optional for authorized electronic publication (see 29.2). A reference

to Art. 33.2 Note 1 should be added to "pagination" in the index. 

 

     Yes 9, No 5. (Recommended). 

 

Nicolson, D. H. 1994. Announcement: standing and special nomenclature

committees. Taxon 43: 283-285. 

 

 

---------------------------------------

 

[Not to be included in the published version are the actual votes, given

here for the Committee's information:

 

RECOMMENDATION:1  2  3  4

B. Baum        y  y  n  y

W. Berendsohn  y  y  y  y

A. Chapman     n  y  y  y

M. Crosby      y  y  y  n

P. D vila A.   n  y  y  y

T. Daniel      y  y  y  y

E. Farr        y  y  y  y

N. Hind        y  y  y  n

P. Kirk        n  n  n  y

R. Moe         y  y  y  n

A. Orchard     y  y  y  n

P. van Welzen  y  y  y  y

K. Wilson      y  y  y  y

R. Zander      y  y  y  n

TOTALS    yes 11 13 12  9

           no  3  1  2  5

All Recommendation pass. None are unanimous. Recommendation 2 has

greatest support.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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