Friday, May 23, 2008

SVP rules on Aetogate

The SVP Executive Committee has posted their official findings into Aetogate. You can read their full statement here (pdf), along with a set of “best practices” in publishing and museum research (pdf) drafted by the SVP Ethics Education Committee. What it boils down too:

  1. the Ethics Education Committee concluded that the Spielmann et al. omission of citing Martz's correct orientation of an aetosaur scute in a figure does not imply plagiarism, but an oversight.
  2. the Ethics Education Committee was not able to resolve the allegations by Parker that Lucas et al. deliberately rushing to publish a new genus name for the aetosaur formerly known as Desmatosuchus chamaensis in favor of either side.
They then give us a list of lessons learned from these investigations.

  1. "Achievement involves not only individual and collaborative discoveries and publications but also support of other workers, especially junior scientists, in one’s scientific community. Overly competitive behavior does not necessarily further our discipline."
  2. "We expect reviews of professional conduct to be unbiased and free of conflicts of interest (real or apparent), regardless of whether they are performed by professional societies, employers or editors." They then go on to state that the review by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science regarding the complains was not handled well did little to help resolve the issue. (please read their specific statement regarding this)
  3. Scientist who work independently on the same material can reach the same concussions.
  4. "...the editorial practices of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin have left the authors vulnerable to the appearance of impropriety."
  5. Lack of communication, especially in this case, only helped to further the conflict.
  6. "...the expectation that theses and dissertations that have not been republished in widely read periodicals will be read by most workers or manuscript reviewers is unlikely to be realized." They then urge students to be more wary of distributing their thesis/dissertation work until publication is underway. They also note that if a worker is aware that a thesis/dissertation has been been written on a particular topic the thesis/dissertation writer should be given a reasonable amount of time to publish their findings.
  7. "Finally, the public posting of opinion and correspondence about these allegations on the Internet has not been helpful to resolving these matters, both in regard to the SVP Ethics Education Committee fairly resolving the matters, but also in that it has potentially polarized and biased the vertebrate paleontology community in a way that jeopardizes fair consideration of these matters as a community." (does this mean I should be keeping my mouth/blog shut about this and not even write this post??? Please advise) :(

Comments/words in bold are my own emphasis, not that of the SVP Ethics Education Committee or that of the Executive Committee.

The review ends with a note that "the Ethics Education Committee and Executive Committee are in the process of evaluating whether to amend and expand the Bylaw on Ethics, so that any future such complaints – if found to have merit – can be acted upon more forcefully."

Official Press release here.
Statement on Allegations.
SVP Statement on Best practices from the Ethics Education Committee regarding research, publication, and museum work.

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