Advance online articles have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication but have not yet appeared in the paper journal (edited, typeset versions may be posted when available prior to final publication). Advance online articles are citable and establish publication priority; they are indexed by PubMed from initial publication. Citations to Advance online articles must include the digital object identifier (DOIs) and date of initial publication.
So the editors of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B are claiming that new taxon names such as Miragaia longicollum are established upon publication online, so in this specific case M. longicollum was established on February 25, 2009 and until the article comes out in print it is cited with this date (I have fixed this in my previous post and am glad that they explicitly state how to cite an advance article).
What does the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) say about this? Jerry Harris had an article a few years back (Harris, 2004) where he recommended amendments to Articles 8 and 9 of the code to accommodate DOIs and advance online publications. Specifically this would deal with Articles 8.6, which states that on-line publications must deposit hard copies “in at least 5 major publicly accessible libraries which are identified by name in the work itself” and Article 9.8 which states that “text or illustrations distributed by means of electronic signals” do not constitute valid work (ICZN, 1999). Thus, according to the ICZN, the name would not be valid until the printed version is made available to the public (unless an amendment has already been made, which I am unaware of). Countering this Harris (2004) argued that on-line publications met the availability criteria and that DOIs provide unique, archived identifiers that fix the date of publication, and thus proposed:
“I propose to the Commission that, under Article 78.3 ('Amendments to the Code'), Articles 8 and 9 of the current Code require both pro- and retroactive (to the effective date of the Fourth Edition, I January 2000) modification to accommodate the following issue: documents published electronically with DOl numbers and that are followed by hard-copy printing and distribution be exempt from Article 9.8 and be recognized as valid, citable sources of zoological taxonomic information and that their electronic publication dates be considered definitive. Note that this does not require electronic publications to have DOl numbers; only that any paper appearing in electronic format that does have a DOl number, and is followed by traditional, hard-copy issuance, is an acceptable place for the appearance of zoological nomenclatural action. Electronic publications lacking DOl numbers lack the citability benefits enjoyed by DOl registered documents and, regardless of whether followed by hard-copy release, will still be subject to Article 9.8 and be considered invalid for zoological nomenclatural actions. Such a change may be issued as a Declaration (Article 78.3.3 and subject to the provisions of Article 80.1), since it entails only minor changes to Articles 8.1.3 and 9.8, as follows (recommended additions in italics): Article 8.1.3. It must have been produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies, including documents that contain identical Digital Object Identifier numbers and for which electronic documents are followed by hard-copy release. Article 9.8. Text or illustrations distributed by means of electronic signals (e.g. by means of the World Wide Web), except where such material meets the provisions of Article 8.1.3”.
Given all of this, I want to know does the statement by The Royal Society fix the publication date for the name Miragaia longicollum as February 25, 2009?
As a side note check out Adam Yates comments at Dracovenator on the taxonomic name of this specimen.
Harris, J.D. 2004. 'Published Works' in the electronic age: recommended amendments to
Articles 8 and 9 of the Code. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 61:138-148.
International Committee of Zoological Nomenclature. 1999. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature 4th Edition. The International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London, 126 pp.