[Tdwg-guid] Demise of Phyloinformatics journal

P. Bryan Heidorn pheidorn at uiuc.edu
Fri Nov 24 19:21:46 CET 2006

The problem and solution has less to do with the Internet and more to  
do with institutional longevity.
The permanence of paper has less to do with acid free paper and more  
to do with the relative permanence of the institutions that house  
them. Most paper documents over a hundred years old have been lost  
forever because there were no permanent institutions to hold them  
until the advent of public and academic libraries. Papers in  
individual scientists collections are discarded when they die. War  
and economic upheavals left paper in rain and fire. It is foolhardy  
to assume that what is on paper is safe.

We know that dissemination of information in electronic form is must  
more economical than paper dissemination. The issue is development of  
proper institutions with adequate stable funding to develop and  
maintain copies into "perpetuity". Commercial publishers, are clearly  
not the answer for preservation. Corporations and publishers go out  
of business all the time. It is only because libraries kept paper  
copies that we still have a record.

Digital preservation and access problems exist for all sciences and  
government documents so there is no need to the biodiversity  
community to go it alone on this. We are just in the beginning of the  
digital publishing history and have not yet established adequate  
preservation mechanisms within libraries to handle data curation,  
preservation and access in all the situations where it is necessary.  
There are projects underway world wide to address this issue. In the  
United States the Library of Congress The National Digital  
Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program http:// 
www.digitalpreservation.gov/ is one example. The U.S. Government  
agency the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) http:// 
www.imls.gov/ began grant programs to train librarians and museum  
curators in digital librarianship and most recently in digital data  
curation http://www.imls.gov/applicants/grants/ 
21centuryLibrarian.shtm is addressing the education issues. The  
University of North Carolina http://www.ils.unc.edu/digccurr2007/ 
papers.html and the University of Illinois http://sci.lis.uiuc.edu/ 
DCEP/ have begun working on best practices and education. This week  
say the successful Data Curation Conference (DCC) in Glasgow,  
Scotland http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/dcc-2006/. DCC will be running  
"Long-term Curation and Preservation of Journals"
31 January 2007. (as an aside, at DCC conference I saw results of a  
survey in "Attitudes and aspirations in a diverse world: the Project  
StORe perspective on scientific repositories" Graham Pryor,  
University of Edinburgh http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/dcc-2006/ 
programme/presentations/g-pryor.ppt that more scientists trusted  
publishers to save their digital documents than their home  
institutions and libraries! It is clear that scientists are generally  
not trained in economics and that the information technology  
management of many institutions must be abysmal!

We need something like to 5 institution rule for distribution to  
apply for digital documents. Digital documents need to be replicated  
as well for both access and preservation. Institutions like the  
Internet Archive help with some of the current problems.  
Institutional Repositories (IR) are another. Many universities and  
libraries world wide are beginning these. It is authors'  
responsibility  to deposit their publications in these institutions  
and to support their creation. JSTOR and other institutions also  
exist. They all have their weaknesses and additional research,  
development and funding is needed to adequately address the issues.  
Also, all journals need to be managed using good data curation  
principles but al too often the publishers in spite of best  
intentions are not educated in such issues.

Digital publishing of taxonomic literature are not the full answer  
for current poor dissemination of taxonomic literature. The deposit  
of a published name in five institutions is a preservation rule, not  
a dissemination rule.  We hurt science and human health is we do not  
at the same time address the information access issue.  We need to  
aspire to better dissemination and preservation. Electronic  
publishing will help but only if appropriate institutions in place.

On the smaller issue, DOIs for publications, electronic or paper is a  
no-brainer. URLs were never designed to be permanent. URLs were  
designed to be reused and be flexible. With DOIs we can place the  
same paper in multiple digital or physical locations and reliably  
find copies.

Bryan Heidorn
   P. Bryan Heidorn    Graduate School of Library and Information  
   pheidorn at uiuc.edu   University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MC-493
   (V)217/ 244-7792    501 East Daniel St., Champaign, IL  61820-6212
   (F)217/ 244-3302    https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/pheidorn/www

On Nov 24, 2006, at 9:54 AM, Renato De Giovanni wrote:

> Rod,
> Thanks for sharing with us the information. I already imagined that
> things like that could happen, but it's always better to argue having
> real examples.
> Anyway, just in case someone reading the story decides to blame URLs,
> I just wanted to say that in my opinion the main issue here is not
> the technology or the GUID format being used. It's the business model
> and the management strategy.
> I can easily imagine similar things happening to DOIs, LSIDs or other
> kinds of issued GUIDs if the institution(s) behind them simply
> disappear.
> Best Regards,
> Renato
> --
> IT Researcher
> CRIA - Reference Center on Environmental Information
> http://www.cria.org.br/
> On 24 Nov 2006 at 13:37, Roderic Page wrote:
>> The Open Access web-only journal "Phyloinformatics" seems to have
>> disappeared, with the Internet address http:// 
>> www.phyloinformatics.org
>> now up for sale. This means the articles have just disappeared!
>> There weren't many papers published, but some were interesting and  
>> have
>> been cited in the mainstream literature.
>> This also illustrates the problems with linking to digital resources
>> using URLs, as opposed to identifiers such as DOIs. With the loss of
>> the domain name, this journal has effectively died.
>> A sobering lesson...
>> Regards
>> Rod
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