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Article
Published: 2020-02-03

The status regarding publication date and availability of taxonomic works published online without proper Zoobank preregistration

Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB – UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 30, F-75005, Paris, France
Commission Code nomenclatural availability online publications paper publications Zoobank preregistration preliminary version final version facsimile DOI LSID promulgation

Abstract

In 2012, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature decided to change the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and to provide a path to afford nomenclatural availability to new nomina and nomenclatural acts through their publication online, as long as the work containing them is preregistered on the website Zoobank under precise conditions. This 2012 Amendment soon raised a number of problems. First, it allows ‘admissible errors’ in this registration, which serves to encourage zootaxonomists, referees, editors and publishers not to pay close attention to this Amendment and to make inadmissible errors, which results in the unavailability of the new nomina and nomenclatural acts at stake. Another source of errors is the fact that Zoobank, contrary to initial plans, does not currently allow the preregistration of nomenclatural acts other than the establishment of new nomina. Other issues are the fuzzy or controversial distinctions made in this Amendment between ‘facsimiles of unavailable works’ and ‘available paper publications’ on one hand, and between ‘preliminary versions’ and ‘final versions’ of online publications on the other hand. Less than ten years after its promulgation, this Amendment has already contributed to the publication of hundreds of unavailable nomina and, which is perhaps worse, of nomina the nomenclatural status regarding availability of which is unclear, according to different interpretations of some terms or rules. The best solution to these problems would no doubt be the publication, as soon as possible, of a revised version of this Amendment addressing these problems, but in the meanwhile better attention given by authors, referees, editors and publishers to the details of this Amendment could limit the damages. Precise proposals are offered in this respect. A distinction is introduced here between two kinds of scientific publications, according to whether they contain nomenclatural acts or not. Those which do but which have first been published online without complying with the requirements of the 2012 Amendment, then later in a Code-compliant manner, may have to be cited as two distinct works, one (publication sensu lato) containing non-nomenclatural information and one (nomenclatural publication or promulgation) providing availability to some nomenclatural acts, which will be a source of confusion and misunderstanding. Proposals are also provided to cope with this new difficulty.

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