Waltzing Matilda – why were the three Australian dinosaurs published in PLoS ONE?

As I was traveling, I only briefly mentioned the brand new and exciting paleontology paper in PLoS ONE – New Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) Dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia that was published on Thursday. Bex has written an introduction and will post a Media/Blog coverage (of which there was a lot!) summary probably tomorrow.
The fossils were discovered, cleaned and analyzed by the Australian Age Of Dinosaurs non-profit organization, with a help of thousands of volunteers – the ‘citizen scientists’. You can learn more from their press release.
The importance of the publication of this paper from the angle of its scientific significance has been covered by several bloggers already. Also, several notice how good it is that the paper was published in an Open Access online-only journal. For example, Andy Farke writes:

This paper is a fantastic example of the real benefits of an on-line, open access journal like PLoS ONE. Without page limitations, the authors were allowed to truly monograph the heck out of the bones. Virtually every element is illustrated from multiple angles (with high resolution photos downloadable from the website!) and accompanied by thorough text descriptions and measurements. The editors of most journals would freak out over such a “waste” of precious space – but I have a feeling that future researchers are going to thank the authors for their thoroughness. As a PDF, the paper weighs in at 51 pages – and this doesn’t include the supplementary information!

The lead author Scott Hocknull, in an interview for us, said:

“One of my major motivations for submitting to PLoS ONE was the fact that my research will reach a much wider community, including the hundreds of volunteers and public who gave their time and money to the development of natural history collections. They are the backbone of our work (excuse the pun) and they usually never get to see their final product because they rarely subscribe to scientific journals.”

In the comment on the post at Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, Scott Hocknull said:

This project is almost a 100% volunteer effort, with thousands of volunteer preppers working endlessly to get the bones ready for publication. This was one of my main reasons for choosing PLoS ONE to publish in. One of my others was the opportunity to provide detail images and descriptions (as best I can).
Most of our volunteers have no access to scientific journal subscriptions, therefore having it online and free for them to look at meant that they could see for themselves the fruits of their labours. They need more credit for the beautiful bones than I.

And all of you can read it for free as well – all 51 pages of it, plus all the great images and supplemental information. And you can add ratings, notes, comments and trackbacks on the paper as well.

2 responses to “Waltzing Matilda – why were the three Australian dinosaurs published in PLoS ONE?

  1. well done Scot, we are extremely proud of you and all those who were part of the team spending hours, days, weeks etc. re-writing the history books. But you are bound to do well Scott because you are my nephew and I wouldn’t expect less – and by the way I will reasd all 51 pages as, as the saying goes, we are never too old to learn. love you auntie jeanne

  2. love the way of publishing online and the way to use volenteers to help study these wonderful bones
    keep on digging prepping and publishing
    hope it ends up in a nice museum for the australian kids
    greetings from holland