Bringing botany into the digital age?

Changes to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature are decided on every six years at the International Botanical Congresses (IBC). In July, at the XVIII IBC held in Melbourne, Australia, key changes were made to ‘the code’ that represent groundbreaking developments for online-only journals such as BMC Evolutionary Biology.

As of January 2012, botanists describing new taxonomic names will be able to publish their discoveries entirely online. Furthermore, the accompanying descriptions and diagnoses can be published in English or Latin rather than the obligatory Latin. ‘This is completely transforming for electronic journals’ says Elizabeth Moylan, BMC series Editor for Biology, in her Editorial ‘and does away with the previous requirement to physically distribute printed copies of new taxonomic names to institutions when anyone, wherever they are in the world, can read the articles in question at the click of a button.’
BMC Evolutionary Biology Editorial Board Member, Dr. Sandra Knapp, who chaired the pivotal congress meeting finds the new proposals really exciting, and although anticipating some resistance was astounded by the level of support shown for the truly modernising proposals. As a result of these developments she has written an article with colleagues John McNeill and Nicholas J. Turland outlining what the changes do and don’t mean for those wishing to publish new names and descriptions electronically. She explained that ‘new names will be more accessible, and that publication of new species in algae, fungi and plants will now be keeping pace with the exciting changes happening in the publishing world.’ The piece is co-published today in BMC Evolutionary Biology and 15 other journals to encourage rapid dissemination of these important changes.  We can only hope that zoologists will take note and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature will soon follow suit…

Philippa Harris

Executive Editor

BMC Evolutionary Biology


Philippa Harris

Philippa is an Editor for the BMC-Series. Before joining BioMed Central in 2010, she did a PhD at the National Institute of Medical Research, UK and a post-doc at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA.

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