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RE: So what are the rules about SVP and publishing? Or talking about present...



I have to agree with Mary here.  Every vertebrate paleontologist who wants a 
copy of the SVP abstracts can get one, making it not secret in the least.  If 
you don't want to be scooped, either trust people or don't report your findings 
at SVP (Aetogate showed trusting people can be a mistake, but as all parties 
involved had access to SVP abstracts, keeping them publically secret wouldn't 
have changed anything).  Imagine how much more good publicity SVP could have 
generated this year if the blogosphere was full of excited chatter about 
Torosaurus being Triceratops, Jurassic alvarezsaurids and all the rest.  Now we 
can talk about it sure, but the excitement's died down due to it being "old 
news" and new papers being published.  As for the oft-used excuse of SVP 
abstracts being preliminary gray literature that shouldn't merit discussion, 
you can't have it both ways.  Either SVP abstracts are basically unfounded 
conjecture, in which case discussing them would harm nobody since there's no 
real data to them.  Or else they're basically identical in their conclusions to 
the eventual published work, in which case they're real (albeit short) data we 
can use in our work.  As far as I can tell, the second possibility is the 
correct one.  The only abstract I can recall which did not reflect the eventual 
paper's conclusions was Novas et al.'s (1996), which thought the then unnamed 
Megaraptor was a possible maniraptoran.  The general objection to that view of 
abstracts is that nothing in an SVP abstract is verified via peer review or 
explicit methods and materials statements, but those are quantitative issues as 
opposed to qualitative ones.  After all, trust in any description in a 
published paper boils down to trusting the author's observations.  Peer 
reviewers seldomly have independent access to specimens and I'm doubtful any go 
through the thousands of 1's and 0's in any modern matrix to verify them even 
if they have the resources to.  Peer review also lets through papers as bad as 
any SVP abstract you can come up wi!
th, and a
ost abstracts are written based on the same degree of research that goes into 
any published paper.  The objection that "The primary investigators should be 
able to complete their work without 50 people who haven't seen the specimen 
telling them how wrong the interpretations are" is just ridiculous.  Internet 
chatter doesn't slow work, and could even have the positive effect of pointing 
out problems with their paper before the problems go into print.  If I were 
working on a paper, I'd be grateful to read criticisms because even though the 
internet commentators don't have access to my full data, I'm not naive enough 
to think that their ideas are all useless.  In fact, I am writing a paper.  If 
anyone has issues with my Limusaurus digital homology post at 
http://dml.cmnh.org/2009Jun/msg00276.html , please tell me so I can consider 
them for the print version.
 
Note this all only necessarily applies to the printed abstracts, as opposed to 
the posters and presentations.  Those are a bit trickier, since they're more 
akin to personal communication than published data.  Though I do wonder how 
much SVP might benefit from the more interesting talks being posted on YouTube 
like many scientific conferences do.
 
Mickey Mortimer
The Theropod Database - http://home.comcast.net/~eoraptor/Home.html








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> Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 18:51:21 -0400
> From: MKIRKALDY@aol.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: So what are the rules about SVP and publishing? Or talking about 
> present...
>
> True, but for 99.9% of the presentations from the past years, I could have
> written them in the sky before the meeting and there would have been no
> impact. Dan Brown could do a book on SVP and its rules :-). The abstracts
> and presentations are "secrets" shared by thousands of people.
>
> It seems to me too that SVP would serve itself better if it did seek more
> publicity. Can anyone who wasn't at the meeting name the other recipients
> of the Lanzendorf awards? (Thanks to Tess, we know that she and Bob won
> one for their Carnegie mural.) What publicity from the meeting would inspire
> a person to attend a future meeting? What publicity was there at all?
>
> Mary
>
> In a message dated 10/20/2009 6:39:06 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
> afarke@gmail.com writes:
> On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 2:53 PM, B tH wrote:
>> As a total neophyte on this subject,
>> I'm curious as to why the 'secrecy' is necessary?
>
> To answer the question in the subject line, here's a direct quote from
> the SVP abstract book of this year: "Observers are reminded that the
> technical content of the SVP sessions is not to be reported in any
> medium (print, electronic, or Internet) without the prior permission
> of the authors."
>
> And to follow up on Mike's response. . .
>
> 1) The threat/perceived threat of being scooped by other scientists.
> 2) Abstracts (and presentations) are only preliminary. Many a
> discussion on the DML about an abstract or presentation has been later
> revealed to be hopelessly premature, with rampant speculation on a
> topic for which there is little supporting information. Hence the
> frequent reminder to "wait for the paper." The primary investigators
> should be able to complete their work without 50 people who haven't
> seen the specimen telling them how wrong the interpretations are.
> 3) High profile science glam magz have rather stringent criteria for
> acceptance of articles. If it is perceived that a find has been
> already publicized (hence hurting the journal's chance to be the
> exclusive first outlet for the research), the paper may be rejected.
> Because (rightly or wrongly) a paper in Science or Nature can have
> huge impacts on a scientist's career (tenure, promotion, hiring, grant
> funding), many folks (quite rightly, in my opinion) get a little
> touchy about unauthorized discussion of unpublished results. Whether
> or not anyone has *actually* been hurt by a DML posting is another
> issue altogether, but perception is important.
>
> Just my three cents,
>
> Andy
> --
>