EGU Blogs


Welcome to the Open Glossary

At the London satellite event for Open Con earlier this year, myself and Ross Mounce were given some useful feedback after our joint talk on ‘Open Data’ by one of the attendees. Apparently, some of the terminology was too complex, or specialist, for the subject, and some of the talk was unable to be followed unless you were already an expert in the issue.

Now obviously this is something that, as members of the ‘open community’, we do not want. As we progress to setting the default to open, I want it to be an open cultural movement, rather than an exclusive clique. For this, I believe it is important that the terminology we use is designed to be inclusive, rather than accidentally (or otherwise) creating rifts within academia.

To that end, afterwards in the pub, where all things science occur, we decided to create the Open Glossary. This is a resource designed to equip people with the terminology that is used within discussions about the general field of open scholarship. Additionally, it possesses numerous external resources that may be of use. This has been a crowd-sourced effort (original document), so thanks to everyone who has provided feedback, edits, and comments to date. I expect to update it every few months.

What I ask is for people to host this document, and share as broadly as possible with friends and colleagues. And not just those who are interested in science or already active researchers – awareness of this sort of thing is equally as important in being active about it, in many cases.

“Open access wins all of the arguments all of the time.”

One is rather inspired. OpenCon 2014 was a wonderful time bringing together the best minds in early career research and the ‘world of open’ to discuss how we make access to knowledge, data, and educational resources better for everyone. It wasn’t so much an event*, as a milestone. Here’s the story of its success.

I don’t want to run through the basics of each aspect of open access, data, and education. Let me instead tell you instead about how we just marked a revolutionary point in making the fundamental right to research a reality. When I use the word ‘publishers’ through this post, I’m talking primarily about legacy ones – those who operate on a paywall-based model and publicly declare themselves to be enemies of progressing research (I’m not going to name names, we all know who they are – PeerJ is clearly safe). This does not include many learned societies, which I think are an invaluable component of academic communities and are a completely separate discussion we need to have.

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Are the days of parsimony numbered? Probably.

April Wright recently published a cool paper looking at how to bring morphological analyses of evolutionary relationships into the Bayesian realm. This is her take on it – enjoy! 

Author Bio: My name is April Wright, and I’m a graduate student in David Hillis’ lab at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m largely interested in the estimation and use of phylogenetic trees to answer questions about evolution. Particularly, I’m investigating how we can make the best possible use of our fossils in an era increasingly dominated by genome-scale data. You might say I’m a little bit of a ‘small data’ scientist, though my questions often involve a multitude of small data sets.

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about a recent paper I published as part of my PhD thesis work.

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IPC4 Day 1 – Death is the road to awe

Following on from the previous post, the afternoon symposium was all about the applications and implications of vertebrate taphonomy.

Matt Carrano kicked things off with a great talk on how microfossil bonebeds help to guide our understanding of terrestrial palaeoecosystems. Using sites from the well-known but poorly understood Cloverly Formation, he provided a key insight from abundances from terrestrial microsites into the composition of faunas. This was a particularly appealing talk for me as it contained atoposaurids!

Carina Colombi asked what the effect was of atmospheric CO2 on the evolution and preservation of the terrestrial fauna of the famous Ischigualasto Formation. It seems that decreases in atmospheric CO2 may explain decreases in the number of preserved vertebrate fossils in different horizons.

Tao Deng explored the taphonomy of the vertebrate fauna in the Linxia Basin in Gansu, China. Older individuals from particularly abundant rhino fossils seem preferentially preserved, based on ages inferred from tooth eruption

Adriana Mancuso described her research into taphonomic modes in a Triassic-Jurassic loessite (wind-blown deposit) from Patagonia. Different taphonomic regimes suggest aspects of social aggregation in some animals, for example from the accumulation of groups of juvenile specimens.

Alexander Parkinson gave an interesting talk on insect-bone interactions from the “Cradle of Humankind” in South Africa. There were plenty of types of boring trace, with a possible new ichnotaxon. The spatial distribution and mode of preservation of the fossils suggests extremely rapid burial and fossilisation.

Raymond Rogers brought us back to microfossil bonebeds, from the Upper Cretaceous Judith River Formation in the US. He was looking at huge numbers of fragmentary fossils and what their size and shape can tell us about their diagenensis, in particular how the deposits formed and where the fossils were sourced from.

Vijay Sathe discussed the taphonomy of a new large mammalian fauna from the Quaternary of India, and the possibility of their mode of death. It seems some may have fallen into pits, and subsequently scavenged by predators, with the preferential preservation of younger and older animals.

Leif Tapanila finished things off by looking at the effect of impermeable ash layers within geological basins, and whether their distribution affected the preservation potential of fossil layers by changing hydraulic regimes.

End of day 1! The best part for me of this second symposium was the potential that fossil microsites have in greatly increasing our understanding of diversity through time. Hopefully much more on this in the future.