Sunday, 12 December 2010

Working with dinosaurs....

These past few days have been a tad long and interesting. I am afraid that I am unable to tell you much, if anything, about the fossils we are studying here at Stanford, such is the secrecy around our current research. However, it is fair to say that we are making progress on several existing lines of research that we started here over four years ago.

The problem with many areas of research is that the fossils we study are the hardest thing to negotiate access to. This really should not be the case, given we have international codes that govern the free access to material in public collections...else we should not be publishing on the material. We know that the fossils that we are currently working upon have been already scrutinised by several other research groups this the collection from which they come is open to seeing new techniques being applied to their collections.

However, if only one person or research group can access a fossil, and prevent or restrict other scientists studying the same material, it slows or halts the progress of science. Hence why the International Code for Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) makes it clear that all fossil material described should be openly available for scientists to study. When an organisation or research group prevents or restricts access to their collections, they risk the scrutiny of the ICZN....and hopefully the journals and funding agencies with whom they seek to publish or raise funds respectively.

Why might one scientist want to prevent another from studying the same material? It is usually quite simple....grants and papers...the staple on which we scientists must function. However, without the fossil fuel to stoke the fire of science, we cannot function.

While I am unable to relay which fossils we are working upon, I can assure you that they are freely accessible to all who wish to see and work upon them.

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