[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Pickering's nomina nuda (was RE: Rob Gay's print-on-demand publication of Kayentavenator elysiae

It's been interesting reading this conversation (sometimes in the wee hours when some of you crazy night owls post) but it seems like the conversation has ended up chasing its own tail to some degree; to me there are two issues here that are being discussed as one and therefore getting muddled:

1) What does the ICZN consider sufficient for validity

2) What does the paleontological community consider to be a valid form of scientific publication

They're related, to be sure, but not identical. What he scientific community considers "best form" for publication necessarily changes over time with technology and the dissemination of data, while the ICZN has to try and impose a set of rules to provide a framework for nomenclature on this changing set of values. Just a hundred years self-publishing with little (or no) peer review about the apex of scientific manuscripts, as attested by the great monographs of the Cope and Marsh era (even the Origin of Species itself was technically just "some guy's" thoughts that were published without peer review in a book). Given the small size of the paleontological field, many journals have been quite small, and this has lead to gray areas even in the primary literature. Perhaps most famously discussed on the DML would be Hunteria; It was a journal with small distribution, less-than-journal-ish binding, and (to some) questionable standards of peer review. Yet it gave us the names Utahraptor and Giraffatitan. (lest you think I'm creating a straw man, I know several people who in earnest discussed whether it should be considered a "valid" publication)

Once we move beyond the true primary literature into the gray literature we see proceedings volumes, edited volumes, museum bulletins, etc. These vary greatly in terms of the quality of printing, in peer review and editing, in turn around time (don't even get me started...), in distribution size, and on and on. Yet nearly everyone who publishes in the paleontological community has made use of these outlets; sometimes they are faster, sometimes they allow page lengths or topics that would not easily fit into standard journals, etc. And indeed, sometimes we name (or amend previous names) in these publications.

Give the wide range of publication types it's no surprise to me that the ICZN concerns itself more with trying to make sure publications are accessible and durable than whether they have merit. Merit is something that can only be determined post hoc via yet more science. Hence the ICZN does not require peer review, nor does it explicitly outline other merit-based requirements; it merely requires that enough copies are made and distributed (and if you are printing via electronic format that you mail out a sufficient number of hard copies to institutions to clutter up their shelves further).

There are several nomen nuda that have only been "published" in popular (sometimes children's) books, and at least one case of a nomen nuda arising solely from a museum newsletter (but then fundamentally the difference between an occasional museum publication and a newsletter is more intent than anything else). As near as I can tell, you could publish a dinosaur name in a newspaper or a magazine and the ICZN won't invalidate it (at least, not on that reason alone).

All of these "end runs" have been available for years, yet the number of "infractions" are fairly small (and get a lot of attention when they do crop up). That's because as a community scientific fields police themselves, largely via social and career pressure. Turning to Rob Gay's publication, I can't see anything in the ICZN that would disqualify it if sufficient hard copies are sold (or deposited at institutions at the author's discretion). That doesn't mean I'm ok with the idea of easy-access publication though. Even if Rob's work is impeccable (and I haven't read it so I cannot say) I am as concerned as Dan and others are that this not be viewed as a legitimate outlet for publications. The era of self-publication really is over, and while it's possible that future innovations in publishing will reverse this, at the moment there seem to be far more pitfalls than benefits to the science if researchers endeavor to be their own publisher and editor at the same time.

So I would encourage everyone to worry less about if the name is valid; the ICZN has nothing in its rules that bar this so really it will likely rise or fall based on the science. At the same time, we can and should discuss the issue of whether this type of publication is acceptable, and I'd encourage Rob to do so as well, but preferably in a larger context rather than taking it as a personal attack on his work. Attempts to broaden the discussion (e.g. the SV-POW posting) can only serve the community as well. It's the scientific community's job to set community standards for publication type, and the ICZN is unlikely to step in on the matter unless someone intentionally tries to make it a test case and finds an editor that will let them publish a second name.

One final issue: Dan has said that this situation shows the ICZN hasn't changed enough to be relevant. I'm not sure I would disagree, and the sedate rate at which the ICZN keeps up with technological and methodological changes is really the reason why people are pushing for the Phylocode (and as many of you know, I'm a supporter of that as well). Whether the more flexible and contemporary nature of the Phylocode ultimately proves to be a advantage (I suspect it will) also will only be determined after the fact. But if not changes will be made, and just like the current discussion on self publication, these things play out (and ultimately resolve themselves) on larger timescales than individual papers or names.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Chure <danchure@easilink.com>
To: mickey_mortimer111@msn.com
Cc: dinosaur@usc.edu
Sent: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 9:54 am
Subject: Re: Pickering's nomina nuda (was RE: Rob Gay's print-on-demand publication of Kayentavenator elysiae

"Honestly don't think we have enough examples of self published papers to say they're generally bad."Â
I think the core issue is whether or not they meet publication requirements for being valid.Â
Michael Mortimer wrote:Â
Tim Williams wrote-Â
> >> And therein lies the problem. Technology has advanced to the
point at which crap science can have the veneer of a professional publication. Just look at the "Dinosaur Museum Journal" as one such self-publication effort that was of exceedingly poor quality scientifically.Â
> > Well, actually for Pickering's Archosauromorpha papers the
opposite is true. They look like pamphlets, but most contain professional-quality descriptions. As you go on to say, much of this is no doubt due to Welles' work being the basis of it. But I ask again, where were the complaints about Madsen and Welles (2000) just being Welles work that Madsen published posthumously? I'm all for piling on criticism where deserved (and Pickering's earned his share), I just like to do it to everyone responsible instead of just those I personally dislike.Â
>> I agree with Dan 100% on this one. "Because he did it, then it's
OK for me to do it" isn't a legitimate defense. We DEFINITELY have a problem with shoddy work getting published. However, for peer-reviewed publications shoddy work is the exception; for self-published publications shoddy work is the rule. All your examples are just providing more evidence for this.Â
> > I honestly don't think we have enough examples of self
published papers to say they're generally bad. Czerkas' book was terrible yes, but his peer reviewed papers are equally terrible. Olshevsky's Mesozoic Meanderings have no significant issues as far as I can tell. Paul's Dinosaurs of the Air is quite high quality.Â
>> Why stop here? I say we should *start* here. These particular
crap names are a good place to start. Sure, crap science still appears in official journals. But considering the huge number of dinosaur-related papers that have been published, crap papers are a relatively small minority. Your (Mickey's) attitude seems to be that because some journals already have low standards that we should give up on trying to enforce any standards at all.Â
I say we should be pulling our collective fingers out and start
enforcing higher standards. If we give the green light to any and all self-published works, then the floodgates will open. There will be a deluge of crap names flooding the literature. Pickering's verbal diarrhea is just the start. This cannot be helpful to dinosaur paleontology.Â
The trouble with rogue taxonomists is that they don't put their
hands up as rogue taxonomists. Every rogue taxonomist thinks of him- or herself as at least as qualified as the professionals. With the individual cited in the subject line (S. Pickering) the very suggestion that he might not be a first-rate paleontologist elicits a violent response and threats of lawsuits on the grounds of anti-Semitism (no, I'm not making this up).Â
And when it comes to rogue taxonomy, Pickering is not the worst.
There's some guy who resides in Eastern Europe (I can't remember his name, but his name sounded French) who freely offers his own insights into dinosaur taxonomy complete with racist diatribes. (Surely I can't be the only person who's received emails from this guy, before I blacklisted him.) Do you want this nutter getting a wiff of the wonders of self-publication?Â
> > I never said we should give up trying to enforce standards,
I just think that publishing in journals hasn't been shown to improve standards. Instead what we need is useful peer review. We could as a paleontological community come up with lists of qualified peer reviewers for each topic (theropods, ichthyosaurs, biomechanics, etc.), then demand that every paper on that topc has to not only go through a few of those reviewers, but any comments HAVE to be incorporated (even if just to say "Williams bilieves this conclusion is not justified"). But there's a problem. I wouldn't put Feduccia anywhere near a paper on bird origins, but from his perspective it's Chiappe, Clarke et al. who are misled. So by what authority do we decide who's qualified? There was a time when both cladistics and BAD were crazy fringe movements after all, and surely we don't want to stifle new ideas or trends.Â
> Maybe instead we have to start deciding whether we really value a
name or not. Why is it possible for someone to potentially make a valid ganus name for "Dilophosaurus" sinensis? Because the experts who did the hard work to determine it's distinct haven't published one yet. That's the advantage the real experts will always have- the ability to determine what deserves a new name and what doesn't. If we really care about a name, we can publish it at the same time we announce a taxon is distinct. In the case of "D." sinensis, it's been over a decade since Lamanna et al. announced it wasn't Dilophosaurus. How much time do they get to have dibs on naming rights? Is there even a paper in preparation? I'm certainly not advocating what happened in Aetogate, but there's a point past which we have less right to complain. And at a certain level, why does it matter what a name is? It's just a label. Who actually knows what half the names that exist actually mean, and who knows anything about the people who named them 100 years ago? What's important and cited are the quality descriptions that only experts can write. The problem's even less important for synonyms. Sure you can name Tyrannosaurus mofo based on a T. rex specimen, but who will care except Olshevsky? How many of us have heard of Allosaurus "carnegeii"? How many reviews of Allosaurus do you see where it's even mentioned?Â
> His name is Jean Pierre d'Amore, btw. Or Peter Mihalda. He's
really a rogue phylogeneticist more than a rogue taxonomist. But the less said about him the better...Â
>> Yes, the description of Dandakosaurus is a pile of crap. So what
do we do? Do we give our middle finger to piles of crap, and start enforcing higher standards? - which is my approach. Or do we say, "Well there's already so much crap out there that there's no point trying to stop it now", which is how I characterize your approach. I think the ICZN needs to update the Code to prevent the proliferation of rogue taxonomy. Bringing its standards into line with the PhyloCode and allowing only peer reviewed publications is a good place to start. I agree that it won't solve everything - but it may stop the rot.Â
So are you saying if someone described the Dandakosaurus material
competantly under a different name that you'd start using that name for the taxon instead of Dandakosaurus?Â
> Mickey Mortimer >
The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars
with Hotmail. > http://www.windowslive.com/campaign/thenewbusy?tile=multicalendar&ocid=PID28326::T:WLMTAGL:ON:WL:en-US:WM_HMP:042010_5Â;