Saturday, February 06, 2010

Where to make taxonomic information public?

There is once more a discussion on Taxacom about the dissemination of taxonomic information: Where should it be? EOL, Wikispecies, others?

Intellectually it is an interesting trespassing of a threshold from scholarly to general publishing that is happening. I fear, that this is happening, because of the commitment by top down organizations that receive a lot of money to provide content, and can not get content in a rate projected. I think of EOL, Scratchpads, essentially all those that want to be the mother of all the biodiversity information. Wikispecies for example stays away from this by equalizing scholarly=cited references.

Lifedesks or Scratchpads both aim as well at the citizen scientist - something we call Amateur - that can be a highly trained skilled non-professional with a professional output to the casual observer who knows something of his backyard and extrapolates this to the entire world. This is a potential source, but it must be more clearly stated what their real contribution is .

In this respect, LD, SPs etc might have a role that they offer a lot of resources that have not yet existed (literature, imaging, DNA sequences, distribution data) and thus put new input into a much better context. Also, the trend to be able to publish from SPs via a peer review process might be a good thing.

It requests though that all the information is accessible, and that is another can of worms.