Outlining the Paper

Thursday, September 1, 2011

After all of this work and data accumulation, it’s probably just about time to do the darned analyses and write the darned paper. We’ve had quite a bit of discussion over the last year or so on what this might look like. To that end, I want to outline one possibility and then solicit input from everyone. Again, this is very much a work in progress, so please comment as appropriate.

Working Title: Trends and Variation in Limb Proportions of Ornithischian Dinosaurs [please think up a more exciting, succinct, and descriptive title]

Outline of Contents

What are ornithischian dinosaurs?
What do we already know about their modes of locomotion and limb proportions? How are they unusual compared to other dinosaurs?
What have other workers done with analyzing dinosaurian limb proportions?
What is the main point of this study? [to document, describe, and interpret ornithischian limb morphology, and how it relates to function]
Materials and Methods
Jay Fitzsimmon’s very nice paragraph on citizen science and the ODP goes here.
How specimens were selected.
Where we got the measurements.
How we winnowed down the data.
How we assembled the phylogeny
Statistical analyses performed on the data [PCA to describe overall patterns; regressions accounting for phylogeny to describe various allometric patterns {we probably only want to look at patterns that are comparable with theropods or other analyses of interest}; analyses looking at trends within clades; analysis of disparity; analysis comparing characters using phylogenetically independent contrasts]
Principal components analysis – done on uncorrected data, how do we describe the limb proportions in various ornithischians. Believe it or not, this hasn’t really been done!
Regressions accounting for phylogeny to describe allometric patterns – we might want to look at a few regressions, such as forelimb vs. hindlimb length, femur vs. tibia+MTIII, humerus vs. radius+MCIII
Analysis documenting trends in clades – include pretty colored images a la Padian et al’s charts of dinosaurian growth rates
Analysis of disparity – how disparate are various groups? How rapidly did the bauplans for the various groups develop?
Discussion & Conclusions
What do these results mean?
We’ll have more to fill in when we get some “final” results!

A Recommendation:

We all will have an urge to make this paper as absolutely comprehensive as possible – in the past we have talked about many, many different kinds of analyses, hypotheses, etc. But, I think we also want to avoid getting bogged down in needless detail or bloated and waylaid by side tangents of marginal importance. (some of what I outlined above may very well fall into this category!) So, let’s keep that in mind. . .(but don’t be afraid to make suggestions, either!)

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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