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Re: Abstracts & Illustrations



Jonathan Wagner wrote-

> Ok, Mickey, I feel that you are crossing a line here. I don't know
> if you have ever done research, but it does take a long time.

Well, I would say my details posts are the equivalent of published
descriptions, but that would be oversimplifying and arrogant.  First of all,
much of what I write comes directly from what the original authors wrote, so
I'm not making all of my own observations.  While I would love to do so (and
do correct for mistakes I see), I would need to see the actual specimen in
nearly all cases, which as you note is virtually impossible.  This also
means I don't have to spend time identifying elements, deciding on
association or dealing with the stratigraphic and taphonomic details that
should be included in good papers, but that I leave out of my posts.
Secondly, I wouldn't call my conclusions certain enough to publish (although
they seem better than those of many papers :-) ), as future research or
input from list members (sort of a peer-review) sometimes shows inaccuracies
(Otogornis is euornithine, Osmolska is female :-] ).  Then there's the fact
I have done virtually no research on actual specimens, just based off the
literature, which gives me very little real world experience and lessens my
credibility.  However, even with these differences taken into account, I
can't see the basic description of a taxon taking longer than a year, nor
the discussion taking much longer if you don't have a phylogenetic analysis
or choose to use someone elses.  However....  James Farlow wrote-

> However, I want to try to make the case that this isn't always due to
laziness;
> sometimes the problem is inherent in the research project itself.  Things
don't always turn
> out to be as simple and straightforward as you thought they would, going
into a project.

I can relate completely.  When I talk about getting papers out fast, I'm
referring to descriptions of taxa, not large analyses (be they phylogenetic,
functional, morphological, physiological, etc.).  These often take large
amounts of time to complete, due to the many variables that must be
catalogued and analyzed.  I would never fault you for not getting your
footprint analysis done, any more than I would critisize Tom for not
publishing his theropod phylogeny sooner.  Sometimes, as James notes,
writing a description is dependent on performing a more comprehensive
analysis.  This too, I can relate to.  I would have loved to get "Details on
Fukuiraptor" out in December (I have the description done), but I felt a
study of basal tetanuran relationships was needed before I could properly
write the relationships section.  So I'm currently working on that with a
colleague and will get the results out to all of you once I feel it is
complete.

> Also, research takes money. My thesis has been delayed for over a
> year now for lack of funds, and that's a #&*$^*&# M.S. Many professors
> take outside projects to make ends meet, and this will further delay their
> work.
> Illustrating takes a long
> time, even if you have a professional to do it for you (you still
> have to supervise). Simply accumulating the literature can take
> forever, as you well know, and processing it can be a hassle. Then,
> of course, there is every one of your colleagues hammering you to
> "see the specimens..." it can be pretty complicated. Never mind that each
> and every worker in the field is laying his professional reputation on the
> line every time he publishes.

These are all unfortunate reasons work is delayed and I'm glad I don't have
to deal with finances or illustrations, but I still can't see it taking more
than a decade.  Good luck to you with your thesis.

Mickey Mortimer