The ICZN now recognises electronic publication!

September 4, 2012

It’s been a looong time coming, but I just got this email from  Ellinor Michel, Executive Secretary of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature:

The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature has voted in favour of a revised version of the amendment to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature that was proposed in 2008. The purpose of the amendment is to expand and refine the methods of publication allowed by the Code, particularly in relation to electronic publication. The amendment establishes an Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (with ZooBank as its online version), allows electronic publication after 2011 under certain conditions, and disallows publication on optical discs after 2012. The requirements for electronic publications are that the work be registered in ZooBank before it is published, that the work itself state the date of publication and contain evidence that registration has occurred, and that the ZooBank registration state both the name of an electronic archive intended to preserve the work and the ISSN or ISBN associated with the work. Registration of new scientific names and nomenclatural acts is not required. The Commission has confirmed that ZooBank is ready to handle the requirements of the amendment.

The amendment, with a brief discussion, is available in open access and was simultaneously published at 7am GMT 4 September 2012 in Zootaxa and Zookeys.

Fantastic news. The article describing the change says that “The Commission voted as follows on the final version of the amendment … For: 23. Against: 3. Abstain: 1″. That is a satisfyingly emphatic margin, showing that electronic publication has not sneaked past the Commission but been enthusiastically (if belatedly) welcomed.

There is plenty to quibble about in the detail of the accepted amendment. Honestly, I do not feel that ZooBank is ready for prime time, for example. But that is details, for another time. Right now, the appropriate response is as follows:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qbQEEOPsb8

Welcome to the Shiny Digital Present!

Almost immediate update

There’s a little more background on the decision in a Zootaxa editorial. Like the original email quoted above, it seems a little shaky on the subject of whether registration is or is not required: “The amendment … does not require the registration of new scientific names and nomenclatural acts” but “ICZN … requires both registration of the work (so that it is known widely to the public) and archiving (so that it is preserved for the future)”.

I’ll have to read the actual amendment to nail this down.

Update 2

Around the web (to be updated on a rolling basis):

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7 Responses to “The ICZN now recognises electronic publication!”


  1. [...] Mallison on his blog at Dinosaur Palaeo. Others will doubtless write about this, Mike Taylor at SV-POW has already done so. Further information can be found at the ICommZN website: [...]


  2. There is plenty to quibble about in the detail of the accepted amendment.

    I agree, and we’ll have to see how the rules work out in practice, but I have to admit that I’m hard pressed as yet to say how they could be better. Any alternative rules would have their own problems, after all.

    it seems a little shaky on the subject of whether registration is or is not required

    Registration is required for online-only publications. It’s still not a requirement for paper publications (though it is encouraged).


  3. [...] fixed,” says Mike Taylor, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol, UK and blogger who has long advocated for electronic taxonomy publication. “The very fact that we’re [...]

  4. Kurt Kohler Says:

    It’s about time! As a friend suggested, you should send them a congratulatory telegram.

  5. Matt Wedel Says:

    Telegram–! Are you not aware, good sir, that telegraphy is transmitted through the newfangled medium of elec-tricity? We shall not entrust our valuable informational cargo to what is likely no more than wandering phlogiston. No, sir! Instead, we shall immediately set the scribes to work on a series–monographic! illustrated!–of congratulatory notes, which shall be dispatched to the corners of the globe by human couriers, if sufficient can be hired that are not lame or overly disfigured by the pox. Nor shall our couriers be swayed by the false promises of speed and security proffered by the steam carriages and aero-motive engines employed by the reckless ICBN–they shall walk, as Nature has intended. Assuming that at least one of our intrepid messengers survives the attentions of wild beasts, moutebanks, harlots, and countless other perils of the road, the ICZN shall know of our approbation well before the decade is out.

  6. David Marjanović Says:

    Heh. Harlots. :-)

  7. David Marjanović Says:

    (Also, corners of the globe. :-) )


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