Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Name-calling sparks dispute over aetosaurs

This is something that has been going on for quite some time and is finally getting a bit more press (national vs. just the vert paleo list!). You can read the the whole article here, as it was presented in Nature today. There are also excerpts below. As I mentioned, this has been going on for quite some time, and it was even talk about in great detail over at Tetrapod Zoology (be sure to read all the comments!) last April. There are quite a few comments from those who have been directly involved in the is case and by some who have been impacted indirectly or who have made observations that are worth noting. You can also read more on the situation here, detailing the time line of events. These are just "one side of the story" but the other side is doing the "no comment" routine, which leaves one to wonder. I leave it to you to decide, but please, do feel free to make as many comments as you like!! :)

Published online 30 January 2008 | Nature 451, 510 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451510a

Fossil reptiles mired in controversy

Name-calling sparks dispute over aetosaurs.

And last July, Jerzy Dzik of the Palaeobiology Institute at the University of Warsaw sent Lucas an e-mail in complaint after Lucas published an article in the Bulletin describing Polish aetosaur fossils3. The article appeared shortly after Lucas had visited the Warsaw Institute, when the fossils were close to being described by scientists there. Such a thing had not occurred in the past 50 years at his institute, Dzik wrote, adding: “Your action was harmful to many young researchers.”

In an e-mail response to Dzik, Lucas blamed the Polish researchers for not being more explicit about their fossil-examination rules, but he did apologize for what he called “a misunderstanding”.

Another article published in the Bulletin by Spielmann and his bosses involves a reinterpretation of an aetosaur called Redondasuchus4. Jeff Martz, a palaeontology doctoral student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, says this reinterpretation — involving bony spikes along the animal's back — failed to properly credit his own similar description in a master's thesis, an act akin to plagiarism.

In a letter of complaint sent in 2007 to New Mexico government officials, Martz, Mathew Wedel of the University of California at Merced and Michael Taylor of the University of Portsmouth, UK, wrote: “It is our strong suspicion the [New Mexico Museum team members] deliberately abused their editorial powers to take credit for observations and insights of Parker and Martz.” Such actions, the letter argues, corrupt the scientific process and harm young researchers. Because Lucas largely edits the Bulletin, he and his team have been able “to mass produce essentially self-published and non-peer-reviewed papers”, the letter claims.

1 comment:

Dr. Vector said...

Hi Dinochick,

Thanks for covering this. The full documentation site is here. Right now it just has the timeline that you linked to and a link to the Nature paper, but more will be coming soon.

All the best,

Matt Wedel