[Syrphidae] Re: An example not to follow

ximo mengual sanchis xmengual at gmail.com
Tue Jul 18 16:37:28 BST 2017

Well, I still have the same impression after some answers than the one I
had before: we cannot do anything.

Surely only by having taxonomy and keys all available freely on the Web. My
> guess is that it will never be eradicated entirely, but we can minimise it
> by free access in one place.

Free-access is not the solution, but it will help. Websites like
ResearchGate, http://syrphidae.myspecies.info/, our own websites, and some
more (Sci-Hub, etc.) offer all our papers for free. We do have the
possibility to ask for some references in this discussion list as well. So,
in my opinion, we cannot excuse a bad scientific article on the fact that
authors did not have the appropriate literature. Moreover, editors and
reviewers must check also that the bibliographic references are appropriate.

and also having a well-known system of offering help in ID to everyone
> working on syrphids. If we had a single syrphid website for taxonomy, keys
> and ID help, this would go a long way towards eradicating such errors. The
> authors at least tried to identify their material, which is good to see.
> Some don't get that far.

Why would we have a 'single' website? Freedom of choice is important in
this internet era. Anyway, the platform is there already.
We can help on determination but we must not. I'm not paid to suggests
names based on images, although I do it very gladly.
We cannot be pleased because authors have tried to put names on their
material. Basically, I cannot thank that they cited two genera from Kashmir
that occur thousands kilometers away; I cannot thank that nobody else could
check the ID of those flies (probably the material is not kept in proper
conditions any longer); I cannot thank that those records will be in the
literature forever without a small chance to be studied by someone else; I
cannot be thankful because they tried their best. I do think that sometimes
is better to use sp1, sp2, etc. rather than names, especially with the
uncertainty is high.

none of the researchers ever thought about how to ID the material before
> the study, nobody includes funding in their grants and most people expect
> to find somebody to do this for free

That's one of the reasons why we do not get money for taxonomy: the society
(researchers included) have used to grant our resources for free. "No
worries, this or that guy will determine the specimens". And we are part of
the problem by providing names for free as suggested before. I'm getting
paid from tax-payers money and very glad to help anyone coming to me asking
doubts, as well students who need help. Thus, an incorrect ID cannot be
justified by the lack of willing from our side.

By reaching out and making connections to the authors and provide future
> authoritative support whereby these researchers – and others - can avoid
> future errors. Perhaps the authors do not have access to the latest
> taxonomic literature

Perhaps, but see my comment above. A simple email to this list or to any of
us is sufficient to get the literature you need. What I cannot do is their
job: put all possible efforts to do accurate IDs and do proper science.
The other question is why I should provide 'authoritative' support if I'm
not asked for it. I don't think the authors would be happy if I come with
my 'authoritative' knowledge (without being asked) and tell them that their
IDs are wrong. This behavior has created more problems than solutions in
the history of humankind.

most of the taxonomic work has been done, is unavailable because it’s still
> owned by private corporate publishing firms that exact ridiculous fees to
> access these works (most of which were actually publicly financed)

I agree, but I'm not asking here to fight 'Goliath', this is not the place
or the moment to discuss this.

Be happy there are researchers doing work with syrphids. Mentor them: I’d
> bet that this was a young graduate student’s work that had to be submitted
> to qualify for (future) funding and education.  Encourage them to submit
> their work to other people with more taxonomic and systematic experience,
> and perhaps to journals with better editors and reviewers.

I'm happy to see that everyday, more and more people enjoy syrphids as much
as I do, but this is not an excuse for bad science. I have mentored some of
those young, extremely active researchers/students, and trust me when I say
it is not easy: email correspondence was not created to determine
Again, this particular case is just an example. The fact that bad taxonomy
is published by a young graduate student is not an excuse. Shall we also
mentor her/his mentor? I think I'm not the right person to evaluate a
mentorship, but I can dislike this kind of papers that create confusion
instead of enlightenment.

We can not blame ourselves to justify that others have not done their job.
We can keep saying '*we do not do enough from our side*', but I hope this
is not the single answer I get.

Best wishes,

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