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Global access to nomenclatural botanical resources: Evaluating open access availability

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

Societal Impact Statement: Primary occurrence data (‘what, where, when’) enable study of species distribution and diversity, facilitating reactions to societal challenges from food security to climate change mitigation. Scientific names integrate information and are made concrete through reference to a type specimen. Research and conservation planning requires timely open access to this data. Around 2000 vascular plant species are described each year, and many are narrowly endemic and face conservation threats. Twenty-four percent of those published between 2012 and 2021 is available openly, and only 12% of taxa is represented by digitised type material served from within their native range. We make several recommendations to increase open access to this vital information to support prompt conservation action and future research. Summary: We review access to literature and type specimens, key resources for taxonomic research. Takeup of open access (OA) publishing in plant naming is analysed using the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) data (2012–2021), and online availability of specimens analysed using the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Integration of the World Checklist of Vascular Plants (WCVP) taxonomy and distributional data is used to examine regional variation. We found that 23% of vascular plant names are published OA, and 41% are digitally undiscoverable: contained in bibliographic works without a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or with an unresolvable DOI. The most common OA publishing model used is ‘gold’. We also found that 30% of taxa are represented by a digitised type specimen mobilised from within the continent of their natural range and only 12% from the (more precise) country. We recommend clear article processing charge (APC) waivers for authors from low and middle income countries to better enable ‘gold’ OA and promotion of deposition repositories to better enable ‘green’ OA. Nomenclators should clearly indicate the OA status of literature and mobilise type citation data as material citations to aggregators like GBIF. Names registration systems should promote the capture of code-recommended elements such as catalogue numbers for type specimens. Digital mobilisation of specimen metadata and images from collections based in low- and middle-income countries must be accelerated to help increase in country taxonomic capacity to document and conserve plant diversity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlants People Planet
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2023

    Research areas

  • GBIF, botanical nomenclature, herbarium, open access, specimen, taxonomic distribution, types, vascular plants



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