About protohedgehog

Palaeontologist, working on a PhD at Imperial College in vertebrate biodiversity and extinction. Digs science communication, science policy, and opening up the research process. Tweets vigorously as @protohedgehog.

Help us, we’re poor

Straight to it. Myself and Bastian Greshake have been invited to OpenCon this year. Sadly though, we were not awarded travel grants. Super sadly, we’re both poor too.


As such, we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo to help us get to Washington DC. All the details are on the page, including a video with some out-takes.. We’re nerds, not crowdfunders.

I’ve written extensively about how amazing OpenCon is before, for PeerJ, and personally for 2014 and 2015. I’ve also led a satellite event in Berlin, and am planning on leading another satellite this year too that will be even bigger and better! You can see my application here too.

If you can support us by reading, sharing, or contributing, we would both be eternally thankful.


Reddit Science and the impact factor of doom

So Reddit is pretty awesome for science communication, in my experience. It’s an enormous network of potential audiences to reach with new research, and things like Reddit AMA’s allow pretty cool engagement directly with research and researchers. Some researchers have had pretty poor experiences with Reddit, as we might expect. After all, Reddit is just like a condensed form of the Web, and we should expect a range of experiences as a result.

But today something new was revealed to me about Reddit as a science communication platform. The Science sub Reddit doesn’t seem to  let you post research from a journal article, or blog posts about them. unless the journal in which the original research was published has an Impact Factor of 1.5 or more.

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Why you should publish the shit out of your PhD as early as possible

I think the title for this one is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve now submitted my thesis and have a viva date set, which apparently means that I’m now self-entitled enough to feel like I can hand down advice as if I’ve been given a gift of incarnate knowledge and wisdom from the gods of academia.

Irrespective of what we want academia to look like, the reality of being a researcher is still this for the vast majority: If you aren’t publishing your work, you don’t exist. There will be exceptions, but this is the norm and the reality. Publish or perish is still the raison d’etre for many junior academics. If you’re not playing the game, you bet your ass your friends/colleagues/competitors are. So to not do so is a bit daft.

So my advice is simply this. If you have something that is publishable, or can be adapted into something publishable, or can forge collaborations early on that lead to publication, do it. Jump on it, commit to it, and finish it. My personal reason for publishing a lot during my PhD was to give a middle finger to ‘colleagues’ who said you cannot do open access things/science communication/high impact publications (whatever they are) etc. all at once during a PhD. Well, it is possible. You just have to work pretty damn hard, be focused, dedicated, and think strategically. Work hard, play harder, was my PhD ethos.

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The first crocodile ancestors | PLOS Paleo Community

Did you know that birds and crocodiles are practically cousins? Around 230 million years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the two different lineages. This is because birds and crocodilians (which includes alligators, caiman, and gharials) are part of a much larger group called Archosauria, or ruling lizards, which means they share a common ancestor far back in time. When they split from each other, they formed two major evolutionary pathways: the bird-line archosaurs, which also includes all dinosaurs, and the crocodile-line archosaurs, which includes crocodilians and their ancestors, the crocodylomorphs. Back at around the time of this split, during a time known as the Late Triassic, the world was much more different than it is today. Small crocodylomorphs prowled the land, along with the earliest dinosaurs. There were a host of other bizarre reptiles, such as the predatory rauisuchids, which might be closely related to the first crocodylomorphs, and

Source: The first crocodile ancestors | PLOS Paleo Community