Rod Page – Towards an open taxonomy

Event Date: 28 October 2011
Flett Lecture Theatre
Natural History Museum

 

Anchoring Biodiversity Information:

From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond

Rod Page
Towards an open taxonomy

Professor of Taxonomy, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow
Email: r.page@bio.gla.ac.uk

Taxonomy is in many ways still pre-digital. Most taxonomic databases are little more than digitised index cards linking names to often-cryptic bibliographic citations, oblivious to the growing volume of scientific literature that is now online. A growing fraction of taxonomic literature is becoming freely available, either through adoption of Open Access publishing models, or through digitising efforts such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Yet much of the most basic information about biodiversity, namely taxonomic description, remains either behind a pay wall, or only available in paper form. This talk sketches the goal of an “Open Taxonomy.” The first step towards this goal is digitally linking scientific names to the primary literature using standard identifiers such as DOIs. I argue that until we make serious inroads into this task, taxonomic knowledge will remain in a ghetto largely ignored by the wider scientific community. will explore the context of CD Sherbornís Index Animalium and those looming problems and issues which a laborious and comprehensive ìindex of natureî was meant to solve.

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