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Free Content Report of the Special Committee on Electronic Publication

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The Special Committee on Electronic Publication was re-established at the XVII International Botanical Congress (IBC) in Vienna in 2005, with the mandate to consider on the issues relating to the electronic publication of nomenclatural novelties and to report to the XVIII IBC in Melbourne in 2011. With the global push to inventory biodiversity and to develop information systems to disseminate data, issues surrounding speed of publication, copyright and licensing, and permanence and accessibility of information have surfaced. Electronic publication is central to these issues, and the insistence of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Code) on distribution of printed matter for effective publication is seen by many as a hindrance to progress. Against this backdrop, the Committee conducted extensive negotiations and discussions on a wide range of issues on electronic publication, which are here summarized in the Committee's report. The Committee unanimously supports the extension of effective publication to electronic publication, but in a well-regulated way that will establish the basis for long-term archiving and discovery. The Committee has put forward a set of eleven proposals (Special Committee on Electronic Publication, 2010) to amend the Code to permit electronic publications to be considered effectively published under specified conditions on or after 1 January 2013. It is proposed that electronic material will be effectively published only when distributed in Portable Document Format (PDF) in an online serial publication with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). An additional proposal extends this to PDF with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Further proposals strengthen this by forbidding post-publication alteration and by discounting preliminary versions as not effectively published. The current method for establishing the date of effective publication is amended to account for electronic material. These changes to the Articles of the Code are supported by a set of Recommendations for best practice for electronic publication of nomenclatural novelties, covering aspects of archiving and immutability, dissemination of data, and clear designation of versions as preliminary or final. This report provides the supporting documentation for the set of proposals that are also published in this issue. It is necessary that the two be read alongside each other.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: P.O. Box 7491, Toowoomba South, Queensland 4352, Australia 2: Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, Saint Louis, Missouri 63166-0299, U.S.A. 3: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR, U.K.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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