Friday, March 2, 2012

The Open Museum Notebook - Torosaurus Style

A new paper on the Torosaurus / Triceratops issue was just published in PLoS ONE, bringing some additional analysis to the table. I won't comment on it any more here (I'm saving my thoughts for a formal reply on the PLoS ONE website itself), other than to refer you to my own paper and the Scannella & Horner response.

In any case, I have a pile of notes from my own work on Torosaurus (or whatever we should call it), and figured it was time I distribute them a little more widely. So, I just uploaded my notes on the Yale Torosaurus specimens to There isn't really anything earthshaking in there (most of the meat of it has been previously published), but in any case now other folks can use them. The sketches of real bone vs. reconstruction should be particularly useful.

My sincere hope is that at least a few other paleontologists will follow suit with their own notebooks - there are a lot of unused data that will never see the light of day otherwise. I also have a goal of gradually digitizing and posting my other museum notebooks, but that will probably take some time!

Citation and Link
Notes and Observations on Specimens of Torosaurus at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Andrew Farke. Figshare. Retrieved 15:40, March 02, 2012

Update: Since this posted, I have uploaded a number of other notebooks. Find them on my figshare author page.


Andrea said...

Hey Andy,

First and foremost, I think it's awesome that you're sharing your notes, and also hope that more paleontologists (and biologists, and geologists etc) will think to do the same. One question though -- is there a particular reason you use figshare to host them?

Andy said...

A few reasons:

1) My institution doesn't have a formal, internet accessible data archive, so institutional archiving isn't really an option at this point.

2) At least some of the data aren't associated with a publication, so options like DRYAD (which I very much like) were excluded.

3) The data didn't really seem to fit with any other archives I'm aware of (but I certainly will take recommendations if you have alternative suggestions).

4) figshare is free, and allows a CC-BY license, so if the site goes belly-up I still have maximum freedom (with attribution) for my data. The license was pretty important, because I do want others to be able to use the data with minimal restrictions.

Andrea said...

I mentioned this post to colleague Guarav Vaidya and asked him if he thought Wikisource might be able to house notes like yours, and he took the question to the community -- -- it's an interesting conversation. If you're interested in experimenting and putting your notes up (and possibly winding up with your very own page on wikipedia), let us know. The process is actually pretty low effort (we just finished uploading notebook 3 of Junius Henderson's field notes, and are in the process of writing up the project for ZooKeys). Heck, if other wikipedians get sufficiently interested in the effort, they might take care of it for us.

This isn't anything against Figshare, mind you -- in some ways it's a more stable repository, if only because no one can edit anything! But Wikisource has the advantage of navigability, and would give you a place to store transcriptions alongside the notes (and, again, strangers on the internet might even do the transcriptions for you). This would likely make the notes more accessible to lay readers.