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Re: Mosasaur bone structure and growth rates

Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> wrote:

> I'd go further.  It's time to drop the stupid convention that
> dissertation are considered "unpublished".  If they're made freely
> available, then they are in fact published for all purposes except
> those of the ICZN (and as I've argued before the ICZN rules are wrong,
> but let's not get back into that).  There was a time when
> dissertations were hard to get hold of; then it made sense not to
> consider them "published".  But that time has gone.

I agree that there's no doubt that dissertations should be cited for
original data.  It's not clear to me why this is even controversial.
For example, Kevin Middleton's 2003 dissertation on the orientation of
the avian hallux is an impressive and comprehensive body of work - but
most of the contained material has yet to be published (including data
on the hallucal morphologies of Mesozoic birds).  I'd hate to see this
work ignored.  In fact, the dissertation has already been cited by a
number of peer-reviewed papers (e.g., Moreno et al., 2007; Gatesy,

But when it comes to nomenclature, it's a whole different ball game.
New genera and species named in dissertations should *not* be
considered validly published for nomenclatural purposes.  ICZN rules
regarding what constitutes a valid publication are already lax enough
without dissertations being allowed as well.  Otherwise, it offers
another loophole by which new names can be 'published' while skirting

In an ideal world, the ICZN would be tightening the rules - such as
limiting valid publication to peer-reviewed scientific journals ONLY.
Not only would dissertations continue to fall outside the criteria of
what constitutes a valid publication, but self-published works would
be excluded as well.  Names like _Archaeovolans_, _Kayentavenator_ and
"Walkersaurus" would be nipped in the bud.  All three names appeared
in publications that were not subjected to peer-review (and were the
worse for it); but only "Walkersaurus" appeared in a medium that was
not acceptable to the Code.