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Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 08:11:51 -0400
From: Philip Cantino <email@example.com>
Subject: Fwd: And now my quarterly nitpicking...
David Marjanovic wrote: >Instead of complaining about Article 4 in general, which is much stricter >than the ICZN, I'll just ask why peer-review is obligatory. Currently, many >journals are not peer-reviewed, so the Phylocode would greatly restrict the >number of journals which could publish phylogenetic definitions. Perhaps other members of the advisory group will respond as well, but the reason I favor peer review as a requirement for publishing names and definitions is that good phylogenetic definitions are difficult to formulate. It is easy to make mistakes in the wording of definitions that the author and the systematic community regret later. Phylogenetic nomenclature is not as "cut and dried" as rank-based nomenclature. Choosing the most appropriate name for a clade (if there is a choice among preexisting names to convert), and writing a phylogenetic definition that accurately captures the intent of the author and minimizes content instability in the face of future changes in phylogenetic hypotheses, require a thorough knowledge of the systematics and nomenclatural history of the clade and experience in formulating phylogenetic definitions. Peer review assists the author in this process and reduces the likelihood that poor definitions and inappropriately selected names will be published--to the detriment of everyone using phylogenetic nomenclature. Peer review also reduces the likelihood that an irresponsible author will ignore the recommendations of the PhyloCode. These recommendations are not mandatory, but they were written into the code for good reasons, and the community of PhyloCode users should strongly encourage authors to follow them unless there is a very good reason not to. Peer review is a key mechanism for promoting responsible use of the PhyloCode. This will be particularly critical in the years immediately following implementation of the PhyloCode, when quite a few of the initial users will be relatively inexperienced, and there will be many opponents of phylogenetic nomenclature eager to demonstrate that this new system is a disaster. Poor definitions written by inexperienced or irresponsible authors will provide our opponents with ammunition. I am surprised to read that "many journals are not peer-reviewed." It is my impression that most reputable journals are peer-reviewed, and that the only difficulty we will have in finding outlets for phylogenetic definition is opposition on the part of the editors of some of these journals. Also, the International Society for Phylogenetic Nomenclature (which will be inaugurated in Paris next summer) may want to create a journal dedicated to publishing names and definitions if PhyloCode users are having trouble finding peer-reviewed outlets for their papers. Phil -- Philip D. Cantino Professor and Associate Chair Department of Environmental and Plant Biology Ohio University Athens, OH 45701-2979 U.S.A. Phone: (740) 593-1128; 593-1126 Fax: (740) 593-1130 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org