The paper represents the culmination of a campaign to institute the electronic publication of scientific names, a case Knapp and others have made in journals including Nature[doi:10.1038/446261a]. Allowing electronic publication should make accessing information easier for scientists worldwide — especially those in developing countries who may not have access to fully stocked libraries. This, in turn, will aid conservation efforts, Knapp says.
Given the profile of this paper, "...the first time new plant names have been published in a purely electronic journal and still complied with ICBN rules", you'd think the participants would ensure the electronic aspects of the publication worked. Sadly, this is not the case.
The four names in question have apparently been deposited in IPNI with the following LSID's:
- Solanum aspersum: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77103633-1
- Solanum luculentum: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77103634-1
- Solanum sanchez-vegae: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77103635-1
- Solanum sousae: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77103636-1
Today is May 6th. None of these names are returned by a search of IPNI, for example http://www.ipni.org/ipni/simplePlantNameSearch.do?find_wholeName= returns this:
Resolving the LSID returns this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Hmmm, so apparently this record has been "deleted"?
The paper also states that:
The IPNI LSIDs (Life Science Identifiers) can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the LSID contained in this publication to the prefix http://ipni.org/.
This sentence mirrors similar ones in other PLoS ONE papers saying we can resolve ZooBank LSIDs by appending the LSID to http://zoobank.org (e.g., see doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001787).
Thing is, URLs such as http://ipni.org/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77103633-1 return a 404 from Kew (any IPNI LSID I've tried does this).
So, to recap:
- The names aren't in IPNI
- The LSIDs state the record has been deleted
- The LSID's can't be resolved by the means stated in the paper
Given the milestone this paper represents, and the fuss over the publication of the name Darwinius, you'd expect the bioinformatics side of it to be, you know, actually working. In these circumstances, how on Earth do we make the case that the LSID and name databasing side of taxonomic publication is useful?