[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: journals and paleontologists

Here we go again!

>  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.

Christ! I thought we went over this already! 

In the last epsiode of  what I call the "reprint conspiracy"  we debunked the 
notion that one is not entitled to every paper ever published just because 
one happens to have a computer. No one has an entitlement to anything here! 
It is absurd to believe otherwise. 

This week, it's another conspiracy theory!
Without repeating anything previously stated by Tom and Jerry( because I 
agree with them in toto)  I will say that I am tired of this "us vs. them" 
mentality. The crux of the problem again boils down to TIME and MONEY which 
includes the POLITICS of procuring that money.

Paleontology sensu lato is the POOR relative among the sciences. One does not 
get into this field in order to become rich! The way I see it, your'e lucky 
if you  can land a steady job in anything close to what your degree is in!  
The funding is just not there. Some universities have scaled back or closed 
their geoscience departments. Our own (US) government gutted the USGS!  The 
Smithsonian Institution does not get nearly enough (IMNSHO). Despite the 
allure that dinosaurs have on the public, that allure does NOT translate into 
an adequate level of funding let alone the level of funding needed to 
impliment and sustain a system for diseminating most of the known journals' 
papers! Physics and Astronomy are exceptions precisely because they have what 
we don't, MONEY! Furthermore, computers are integral to those fields much 
more so than they are to a paleontologist. How many paleontology labs have a 
_need_ for a Cray? In our field a simple Pentuim laptop or desktop is 
sufficient and for those big ticket items such as SEM's and mass 
spectrometers etc., money is often not available to repair or maintain them 
so they sit idle and unused.Given the choice, I'd rather have my SEM over the 
freebie thing!

If you were to put all the money ever "made" by the Sereno's. Bakkers and 
Horners of the world as well as that of the other familiar faces we've all 
seen on TV and I dare say it would not fill a thimble compared with the 
"better" budgets other science fields get. On a relative scale these 
gentlemen no doubt fare better but they make up a very small percentage of 
the (paleo) research population. And as Tom pointed out, other countries are 
even more cash strapped than we. 

In retrospect, (and_rhetorically_ speaking) why not just have every professor 
at every university "donate" one or two of his/her grad students (i.e. 
deprive them of their valuable time and research) to digitize every paper in 
their posession and _make_ them create and maintain an archive on their own 
time and money just so the lives of those who feel they are _owed_ something 
can get it easier? NOT!

All I can say is that this list as well as those of Paleonet and Vertpaleo 
are an enormously valuble asset and the closest thing we have to the Utopia 
some pine for. Most of these lists members are actual _contributors_  to the 
overall disemination of sceintific knowledge by providing such tips and links 
that we all find useful. Who else besides me contacted Dr. Lee when it was 
announced on this list very recentlly that the Korean paleo volume was still 
availble? All it took was an email (which he replied to very quickly) to 
arrange payment. It cost $10  not counting the cost for an international 
money order. It arrived in less than two weeks from the day I sent payment! 
How hard was that? Not at all!

Oh yes. I forgot. It wasn't free!


Thomas R. Lipka
Paleontological/Geological Studies