Jstor Plant Science

aaron floden aaron_floden@yahoo.com
Thu, 24 Jan 2013 13:10:50 PST
Legitimacy is the issue I always hear. What makes one over another legitimate? I know of a few that are privately published and not worth anything, but even their publication of a new species is legitimate. Those that are free to publish in (not cost of editing, etc) are as legitimate as anything else, but the editors from these are usually not regional people one might be associated with and therefore these lack the friendly editing process that can develop. I do not know of a journal that does not have a review process (other than the aforementioned private or club journals), but I have heard of journals the repeatedly turn away papers they disagree with for the wrong reasons. I feel these private journals are problematic, one only needs to have a cursory interest in Hoya to see the issues. 

These newer journals also do not require you to have some plant society membership to publish in them or to receive them. Some of the older journals have started turning away from that, but do give less expensive page charges if you are a member. Its all about adaptation as it was pointed out in the Nature-group link. Some will go about raising prices and sticking to a dated format and others will adapt and change.

The review process does not negate the fact that someone might be adding nomenclatural confusion by renaming something. Reviewing clarifies issues and criticizes the argument and methods, but not the validity of the species. I have seen a review of a paper (not mine) that had "not a good species!" scrawled across the front of the draft. If that reviewer feels that way about a paper, then it is their duty, if they feel so inclined, to show that said species is a synonym by some available method --- such as some have done with the Dirca I described.

 Dubious names have arisen for a multitude of other reasons as well: nationalism (to claim this species is endemic to my county, etc.); lack of collecting within the middle parts of a species area of distribution and thus not getting the variation accounted for; slow publication times in the old days; mutant forms (color, variegation, etc) being named to put ones name on something; hastiness to get something described without doing the necessary work; lack of understanding of specific boundaries; etc. In Polygonatum one only needs to look at P. cirrhifolium to see the endless confusion, then look at how distinct some of the synonyms type specimens are from cirrhifolium to notice that taxonomists have taken an extreme to variation and lumped. 

 Technology is making the whole process more efficient, less expensive, easier so as not to require all the hands, and more available to a wider audience and that should be commended. Nonetheless, it seem a lesser number of people my age and younger have any interest, nor do the funding sources.


--- On Thu, 1/24/13, Jane McGary <janemcgary@earthlink.net> wrote:

From: Jane McGary <janemcgary@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [pbs] Jstor Plant Science
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 7:48 AM

Aaron wrote,
"The newer digital-age journals have no publishing costs (except for 
color), usually free access to all, and also have quicker turn around times."

Not true, if they are legitimate, edited and peer-reviewed journals. 
In that case, the publisher (which may be the society that sponsors 
the journal) has to pay an academic editor, a copyeditor, and 
possibly the reviewers, and probably also a compositor who prepares 
the pdf that appears online. I worked on linguistics journals 
published by Cambridge for many years, and there is a lot of work 
between what the authors submit and what eventually appears.

The peer review process is crucial to botanical research articles, 
and particularly to the publication of new taxa. Otherwise you will 
have a lot of dubious names being published, and endless confusion. 
Many of us are aware of botanists who have published new species in 
what are essentially their captive personal journals, edited by the 
sole contributor. That procedure may have been useful in the 18th 
century, but it's not today.

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