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Obtaining papers?



CyborgCompy@aol.com writes:
 > I consider myself an amateur paleontologist.  Had the dinosaur
 > disease since I was three, and Jurassic Park was not much
 > help. Still do, of course.  However, I am curious, how do I get my
 > hands on these newly published papers when they are released? I'm
 > currently in High School and busy most of the time, but, when I get
 > the chance, I'd like to be able to keep up to date, instead of
 > waiting for a little snippet posted on BBC news or CNN about some
 > odd discovery every now and then.

Hi, CyborgCompy.  I'm pleased to say that getting hold of new papers
is much easier now than it was even five years ago.  First, there are
several journals that provide open access to their papers (as indeed
all academic journals ought to, but that's another discussion).  In
the world of palaeontology, the two that spring to mind are Acta
Palaeontologica Polonica at:
        http://app.pan.pl/
and Palaeontologia Electronica at:
        http://palaeo-electronica.org/

The world seems to be gradually swinging in this direction, and I
think we can reasonably hope to see more palaeo journals opening up
their content over the next few years (I know of at least one that is
in the process of transitioning).

For papers in other journals, the traditional answer has been "you get
them through your university library" -- which is not much help if
you're in high-school.  It's for this reason that I got myself an
academic affiliation.

But all is not lost: nine times out of ten, you can get a PDF by
emailing the author and asking nicely.  Most authors are delighted
that someone's taking an interest in their work.  You can usually find
authors' email addresses on the abstract pages that the journals
publish to tease you: for example, if you wanted to know about the
first Neoceratopsian dinosaur remains from Europe, you'd find the
abstract at
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-4983.2007.00690.x
and from there you can see the email addresses of the authors.

The other great thing about this approach is that it gives you a
chance to make contact with people who share your interests.  I met my
own palaeo-mentor through a begging request.

Good luck, and enjoy.  I remember reading somewhere a few years ago
(can't remember where) that astronomy and palaeontology are the two
sciences in which dedicated amateurs can still make a significant
contribution.  If you go on to do so, you won't be the first DML
member (nor the second) to have joined when still in high-school and
then gone on to publish original research.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings"
         -- Monty Python's Flying Circus.