With the arrival of electronic publishing, academic journals and monographs are evolving rapidly. By now, the overwhelming majority of scientific papers and information is distributed electronically. Paper publication has become marginal. In 2012, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature has taken steps to adapt the rules of nomenclature to this changing situation. An Amendment to the Code allowed electronic publication as admissible for nomenclatural purposes on condition that several requirements are fulfilled. These requirements act as a safeguard that the nomenclatural information will remain available in perpetuity. Since this is a transitional period from paper to electronic publication, both publishers and the Commission have to learn how to get everything right. While the general ruling of the Amendment is straightforward, important details can get lost or neglected and need to be rectified or made more specific. One of the more contentious issues about the availability of electronic publications is the publication of electronic papers online before integration into a journal issue, the so-called advance or “pre-“publication, for which publishers have implemented several models.
In a paper published last week, Commissioner Frank Krell has scrutinized the publication models of major academic publishers and identified those whose early online publications are nomenclaturally available, and those which do not fulfill the requirements of the Code. A crucial issue is the definition of preliminary and final version of an article which is not clear from the Amendment. Frank Krell follows the publishers' "Code", the NISO guidelines on journal article versions, to define the final version as the Version of Record. Please read the paper here to inform yourself about this not particularly exciting, but important issue in modern publishing.