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RE: journals and paleontologists



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> ekaterina amalitzkaya
>
> It looks as many people have the common problem of obtaining that Gaia
> volume with papers including those of some generally patient and helpful
> list members. I wonder if this strikes only me or others too that
> there is a
> major problem with paleontologists and and the journals they
> publish in- the
> latter are simply inaccessible. Some respectable paleontologists
> like Paul
> Sereno and his team set up excellent website to inform the public about
> their discoveries even before they are published. Certain other decent
> paleontologists on this list have a general tendency to answer most
> questions of the public. But why is it that they have never
> thought of being
> more organized and making their (published) material  easily
> accessible to
> all interested without mafia formation. In this regard Mickey
> Mortimer must
> be lauded for his regular notes. Why not set up an archive like
> physicists
> where electronic *reprints* can be accessed. If they are barred by the
> vested interests of certain litigative parts of the globe they can come
> around it by distributing reprints through e-mail. For example
> that paper on
> Achillobater was so inacessible while being so critical. I wonder as a
> commnunity why paleontologists did not try making it more easy to
> obtain for
> lesser mortals. Some say there is no money but this makes no
> sense. If there
> is no money there is all the more reason to be more open as all
> are paupers.

WHOA!!!

Now hold on there, partner!

The problem is not in fact paleotologist-style versus physicist-style; it
instead has EVERYTHING to do with publishing in an international context.
Plenty of paleontological papers are published in journals which have some
form of online presence (see Jerry Harris's page
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jdharris/Journal_Links.html for just a few).

However, for the particular cases you mention: in the _Achillobator_ case
the institution in question is VERY poor (as in lacks money), so I seriously
doubt they have the funds for facilities by which to put stuff online.  I
know that this might come as a shock to the folks on the list, but the
majority of you are using greater computer power reading this list then is
available at a lot of museums in developing countries!  In the case of
_Gaia_, the jounral is going through editorial/management changes which are
way outside the control of contributing writers and guest scientific
editors.  They had just begun to get an online presence before losing the
most computer-savvy of all their staff.

As for archives of papers: as discussed very recently on the list, papers
are copyright to the journal in which they are published.  If the journal
chooses not to put such papers online, then anyone who does so is breaking
the law.  Such is the nature of publication.

Comments about "mafia formation" are reprehensible, and offensive to those
of us who go out of our way to provide information (as postings to e-lists
or as reprints) to the interested lay-public.

On a personal level: holy friggin' jeebus, folks, the amount of detailed
scientific technical information availble to you guys (the vast majority of
which are not going on to be professional paleontologists) is VAST compared
to what was around in ancient times (say 1992 and earlier...).  So you can't
get easy access to an article of limited distribution in an obscure
Mongolian journal...  Well, it isn't easy for us, either.  On the other
hand, we could just turn this into Imperial America, and require all science
to be published in approved U.S. journals with free on-line subscriptions:
yeah, that will make things easier for cooperation with home institutions
around the world...

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796