I handed in my thesis not long ago, on Thursday 3rd October 2013. No idea when my viva is yet. I can’t blog many of the chapters because I haven’t convinced my manuscript co-authors of the value of preprints, yet. I’m also a bit unsure as to how some of the other chapters will be received and thus I’ll wait until after the viva before I decide what to do next with it.
Given it’s open access week this week, there is one bit of my thesis I should definitely share: the acknowledgements!
I can’t possibly thank everyone enough for the help I’ve received over the past 4 years – my knowledge, skills, and connections have been vastly extended. Note in particular the bit I’ve highlighted in bold just for this blog post – I want everyone to know how absolutely reliant I’ve been on ‘alternate’ forms of literature access during my research – this is the new ‘normal’ for many early career researchers I fear, until open access is more prevalent we’ll have to continue to hunt, scavenge, beg, steal, and borrow for every PDF. My generation of researchers grew-up using Napster, Isohunt, Library.nu. Copyright infringement is an everyday activity for many of us – WE DONT CARE. Have you been to a conference? How many of the pictures on the speakers slides weren’t technically infringing someone else’s copyright? WE DONT CARE. One can shut down or block specific portals, but doing so doesn’t really solve the basic problem: from what I’ve seen, time and time again, copyright’s only role in science is to obstruct it. My biggest hope for Open Access Week 2013 is that someone will torrent Elsevier’s back catalogue – journal/publisher torrents have been done before and will be done again! It probably won’t happen, but I can dream…
I would like to thank my supervisor, Matthew Wills for putting up with me all this time. I
have been lucky to have such accommodating and understanding support. I also must
thank my lab mates Martin Hughes, Anne O’Connor, Sylvain Gerber, Katie Davis, Rob
Sansom and everyone else in the Biodiversity Lab at the University of Bath – we had some
great times and some brilliant times together. Sincere thanks also to the University of Oslo
Bioportal computing cluster for providing me free cloud computation for my work.
Many people have helped spur my imagination along the way with ideas for different
chapters of this thesis. For this I would like to thank Ward Wheeler, Pablo Goloboff, Mark
Siddall, Dan Janies, Steve Farris and the generous financial support of the Willi Hennig
Society. I want to thank all those in the palaeontology community who have shared their
published data with me, particularly Graeme Lloyd for his stirling work in making
dinosaurian data available – I hope I have done something interesting with the data I have
used and opened eyes to new possibilities. I also want to thank all those in the open
science community – Peter Murray-Rust, Todd Vision, Heather Piwowar, Mark Hahnel,
Martin Fenner, Geoffrey Boulton, Jenny Molloy and so many more I’ve had the pleasure of
meeting in person. The energy and enthusiasm I drew from countless online discussions
on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter was truly inspirational.
For facilitating greater access to scientific literature I must heartily thank the Natural
History Museum, London library and archives, the #icanhazpdf community on Twitter,
Wikipaleo on Facebook, References Wanted on FriendFeed, Library.nu, and SciHub.
Without these additional literature access facilitators I would not have been able to read
half the sources I cite in this thesis.
I must thank my wife Avril for her patience with me especially during the write-up phase,
for allowing me to go away to all these amazing conferences abroad, and for tolerating all
those long nights into mid-morning when I was tapping away on my noisy keyboard.
Finally, I thank my family: Richard, Rosemary & Tara for repeatedly encouraging me to
finish my thesis – I got there in the end!