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The Open Access Dinosaurs of 2018

Happy New Year! As we look forward to 2019’s paleontology discoveries, let’s also look back upon some of the open access dinosaurs of 2018.

Last year saw nearly forty newly coined non-avian dinosaur taxa–over half (56%) appeared in freely available publications, and more than three-quarters of those freely readable ones were published under fully open access (CC-BY) licenses. Compared to the last time I did one of these reviews (for 2015), there is basically no change in the proportion of new taxa named in free-to-read or open access journals. I’m a bit surprised by this, although I also wonder if similar trends apply to all paleontology papers, or just those naming new dinosaur taxa.

In terms of publication venues, PeerJ is hands-down the dominant presence for new dinosaurian taxa, hosting nearly a third of the freely readable papers (n=7; in the interest of full disclosure, I am a volunteer editor for this journal). The Nature family of journals comes in for second and third place, with three each at Scientific Reports and Nature Communications. Reflecting the expansion of publication venues, journals from China (China Geology and Global Geology) and Brazil (Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências) round out some of the newcomers to the dinosaur taxonomy field. I am encouraged to see a growing multinational presence!

Author-posted PDFs are another common way of making research more readily available. Although it is not true open access (and is even prohibited by many journals), many readers without institutional library access rely upon this method to keep up with the literature. When I did an informal search using Google, I found PDFs for at least nine of the non-OA dinosaur papers (I have not indicated them on the list below, however, due to potential journal restrictions). Thus, the papers describing nearly 80 percent of last year’s new dinosaur species can be easily read by most people with an internet connection.

In any case, those are the trends for 2018. As the face of open access continues to change, I expect that we’ll have much more to report in another year!

Diluvicursor, one of the first dinosaurs named in 2018. Image by P. Trusler, from Herne et al. 2018.


Name Freely readable? CC-BY? Journal
Acantholipan No
Adynomosaurus No
Anhuilong No
Anodontosaurus inceptus No
Arkansaurus No
Bagualosaurus No
Bannykus No
Crittendenceratops No
Ingentia No
Macrocollum No
Mansourasaurus No
Pilmatueia No
Platypelta No
Scolosaurus thronus No
Thanos No
Tratayenia No
Xiyunykus No
Dryosaurus elderae Yes No Geology of the Intermountain West
Liaoningotitan Yes No Global Geology
Maraapunisaurus Yes No Geology of the Intermountain West
Qiupanykus Yes No China Geology
Volgatitan Yes No Biological Communications
Bayannurosaurus Yes No? Science Bulletin
Akainacephalus Yes Yes PeerJ
Anomalipes Yes Yes Scientific Reports
Baalsaurus Yes Yes Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
Caihong Yes Yes Nature Communications
Choyrodon Yes Yes PeerJ
Diluvicursor Yes Yes PeerJ
Dynamoterror Yes Yes PeerJ
Invictarx Yes Yes PeerJ
Jinyunpelta Yes Yes Scientific Reports
Laiyangosaurus Yes Yes Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
Lavocatisaurus Yes Yes Acta Palaeontologica Polonica
Ledumahadi Yes Yes Nature Communications
Lingwulong Yes Yes Nature Communications
Saltriovenator Yes Yes PeerJ
Weewarrasaurus Yes Yes PeerJ
Yizhousaurus Yes Yes Scientific Reports

Image in header from Xu et al., 2018.

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