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.

Green tea and Velociraptors turns into beer and dwarf crocodiles

I’m in Berlin. I’ve just managed to find a chicken donner kebab, and am pausing research briefly to write this. I’m currently on leave from London, with a ridiculously hectic couple of months ahead: I’ve just been to Munich to see a dwarf crocodile specimen, Alligatorellus beaumonti (from Bavaria), which conveniently happened to coincide with Oktoberfest, and am now here to visit another specimen, Theriosuchus ibericus, from Spain. Preliminary glances at the material in Berlin makes me think the Spanish material may be a new genus altogether (whatever that actually means), and another broken up specimen of Alligatorellus might be a new species, based on what I can tell from it’s body armour (yeah, these crocs were awesome!)

Alligatorellus beaumonti, holotype specimen. Copyright: Bavarian State Collection, Munich

Alligatorellus beaumonti, holotype specimen. Copyright: Bavarian State Collection, Munich

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Plotting for the Earth. Sciences.

This was originally posted at:

So a cool paper came out a while back about using plots when attempting to construct stories as a mode of communicating in Earth Science. I cannot, as always, emphasise my frustration when someone writes an article that’s supposed to be broadly educational, and sticks it behind a paywall. In this case, it might have reached the target audience of practising institutionalised Earth scientists (hello), but not the many who aren’t fortunate to have a subscription.

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A new feathered dinosaur – worth getting ruffled for?

Two new feathered dinosaur articles appeared in the latest edition of Nature Communications; one on gender identification in a well-known theropod (the meat noshing ones), and the subject of a forthcoming blog post, and another on a new feathered fiend from, surprise surprise, China.

I normally really don’t like writing about theropods, especially of the feathered variety, as it just seems like I’m jumping on the bandwagon that they were awesome and every aspect of them needs extensive media coverage. Ok, yeah, they can be pretty cool. But only, for me, in the context of the larger evolutionary patterns that they can reveal to us, such as the evolution of feathers and flight. Each new fossil doesn’t exactly transform our knowledge of this, but they do help us to refine our theories to a certain extent; whether or not that’s worthy of excessive media coverage and Nature publications, is not my judgement to make (no, it’s not).

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