Age of angiosperms, may palaeobotany rest in peace (and pieces)

How old are the angiosperms? Very trivial to answer, more or less as old as all the other main lineages of living seed plants. Unless you define them in a particular way. And because you are who you are, no-one dares to criticise it. But thanks to predatory publishers, someone did. A tale about ivory towers, opinions presented as facts, the Impermeable Fog shrouding the Forest of Reviews, and the creeping death of palaeobotany. Although it could been the spark to ignite something beautiful.

The Ten Holy Commandments of True Palaeobotany

Deep in the dusty crypts of libraries filled with long-forgotten books, a miraculous find has been made. Folded within the pages, an old parchment was found listing the 10 Holy Commandments of True Palaeobotany.

Germany apparantly plans to end systematic and phylogenetic research

Yesterday, I received a disturbing rumour. Germany finally has a concept to become a lightning star regarding the protection of natural and genetic resources. An add-on to/complete fulfilment of the Nagoma protocol [PDF]. If the plan become law, it's the dawn of phylogenetic research in Germany and German herbaria will become unusable for scientific research.

What I was not allowed to show #2: Networks explaining molecular evolution in wax plants

Thanks to the confidentiality of the review system, experimental research that goes beyond the standard applications may be lost to the Impermeable Fog. In this post, I'll will show several reconstructions I made for a paper of a colleague on Hoya (Asclepioideae), the wax plants.

The growing Grey Zone of scientific publishing

With the open access market booming and the scientific community clinging to shady (“confidential”) peer review, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between honest and predatory publishers. Grey is the new fashion-colour.

Part 4: Gehst schaißen! If it is the will of the sovereign, the voters

Lungt Sverige, La Belle France, Made (drin) in Germany, and Gehst schaißen, Austria! Why it doesn't matter who votes for "right-wing" populists in the four countries that made me European. Part 4: Austria, with some general comparisons/thoughts.

Part 3: Made in Germany, or Wurm drin?

Lungt Sverige, La Belle France, Made (drin) in Germany, and Gehst schaißen, Austria! Why it doesn't matter who votes for "right-wing" populists in the four countries that made me European. Part 3: Germany (with some references to the U.S.)

Part 2: La Belle France—don't fear the FN, but Jupiter

Lungt Sverige, La Belle France, Made (drin) in Germany, and Gehst schaißen, Austria! Why it doesn't matter who votes for "right-wing" populists in the four countries that made me European. Part 2: France

Lungt Sverige, La Belle France, Made (drin) in Germany, and Gehst schaißen, Austria!

Now that Austria has voted, too, and is sailing again towards a deep blue horizon, it’s time for a resumé. Some thoughts on the last elections in the four countries that made me a European. First part: Sweden, still close to paradise (if it would not be for the climate and latitude).

Bundesheimatministerium? Überflüssig wie die Landesheimatministerien

Heimat ist wieder in aller Munde. Nun gibt es auch Forderungen nach einem Bundesheimatministerium, dem Vorbild Bayerns und NRWs folgend, auch von der Heimatministerin der CDU in NRW. Ein Reflektion.

The most common errors regarding node dating

Many molecular dating studies rely on a few, sometimes poorly understood fossils as age priors to constrain nodes heights (ages) in an ultrametric tree. But do the authors (peers, editors, and – ultimately – readers) know what they do/has been done? Maybe, maybe not; in any case reading the papers can be confusing. In this post, I'll try to give a quick step-in.

Wir lagen vor Jamaika und hatten die Pest an Bord

Zwei Wochen offline, man kommt zurück und Schwarze, Gelbe und Grüne sondierten immer noch. Nun hat ein kleines gelbes Männchen die Reißleine gezogen. Warum das Sinn macht (insbesondere für seine Pünktchenpartei).

Cats and Dogs – a deep divide, including languages

Rumour has it that there is a fundamental difference between cats and dogs. Linguistically, it’s quite obvious.

Springer Nature is delivering open access. Will you join us? Don't!

Springer Nature sais thank you But, yes, of course, since we must. Who’s to be credited? Springer Nature or the public paying for it? Too much, and largely ignorant of doing so.

Online proofing, a service to authors (stakeholders) or shareholders?

Elsevier (RELX) and Springer-Nature, two of the maximum profit science publishers, have introduced online proofing as a service to facilitate the work of us unpaid authors and avoid errors. They say. Naturally, it’s not true.

French and German – the sound (and meaning) of two important words

To German ears, French is a beautifully sounding language. Same seems to hold for the English and Italian (although Vanda got more excited when hearing Russian, but she was American…) So, let’s compare two important words.

Wählerwanderung Niedersachsenwahl: Gevatter Tod wieder vorne mit dabei

Wie auch schon zur Bundestagswahl, ein paar Infografiken zur vermutlichen Wählerwanderung bei der vorgezogenen Landtagswahl in Niedersachsen.

The Kraken awakes – Elsevier increases pressure on ResearchGate (through the backdoor)

Just got the message. Elsevier and the American Chemical Society start pursuing ResearchGate to force them to clean the uploaded PDFs for those that should not be there. Naturally using a backdoor, a German Landesgericht (regional court).

Rechtsruck in Österreich, aber nicht in Niedersachsen?

Zwei Zwergstaaten haben gewählt, und die Zeitungen sind voll mit „Rechtsruck“ in dem einem (Österreich, ~ 8.7 Mio Einwohner). In Niedersachsen (c. 7.9 Mio Einwohner) blieb er aus, oder? Ein Vergleich.

What I was not allowed to show #1: A neighbour-net of seed plants

Even as a professional scientist, I always put a lot of effort in enhancing the graphics of our papers. In some cases, the mighty Wizards of the Forest of Review appreciated the effort, but most didn’t bother. In some cases, the circumstances forced me to dump some pretty nice graphs. In this series of posts, I’ll show what has been lost because of the Impermeable Fog, or because my co-authors were vary it might wake dogs and more evil things lurking in the Forest of Review.

How not to make a phylogeographic study

A citation alert pointed me to the paper of Zhang et al. (2017) to be published in Tree Genetics & Genomes, a failed attempt to make a biogeographic study on a small Ulmaceae genus: Zelkova. The severe concerns raised by at least one peer (not me) were largely ignored by the authors and the editor, providing us with a paper that managed to combine the most important pitfalls in (plant) biogeographic studies.

What happens if you try to disperse the Impermeable Fog

Why do bad papers get published in proper journals? Well, mainly because the Impermeable Fog, known as review confidentiality, obscures the entire decision process and ensures no-one can be made responsible. Like in the case of the recently published (pseudo-)phylogeographic study by Zhang et al. (2017) in Tree Genetics & Genomes.

Add-On zur Landtagswahl in Niedersachsen: Die Standpunkte im Wahlkompass als Übersicht

Hier noch ein paar Infografiken für den interessierten niedersächsischen Wähler. Ein Plot der 30 Punkte im Wahlkompass zur Übersicht.

Ein paar Infografiken für die Wahl in Niedersachsen

Im Gegensatz zu ihrem Bundespendant, bietet die Niedersächsiche Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (NLpB) keinen Wahl-O-Mat an, sondern einen echten Wahlkompass. Eine wunderbare Gelegenheit für ein weiteres politisches Netzwerk.

Another Don Quixote gone: Beall’s List of Predatory Journals

Open access publishing is an exploding market, and, hence, has attracted many predators trying to make a quick buck selling the corpse of scientific credibility. But there was one riding against them, but no more.

Changing sides – voter migration mapped in 2- and 3-dimensional space

Migration of voters in elections is usually figured as a 1-dimensional graph, showing on one side what voters voted in the last election, and on the other, their new party. But this hardly show how far (some of them) migrated.

Bundestag election 2017 – the likely unlikely new government

The result is out and Angela Merkel will get her next coalition government running with the centrist-ecological Green Party and the neoliberal FDP. But how does this compare to the parties’ official agendas?

Two papers you may want to read before inferring trees from morphological (or other) data

In this post, I'll advertise two probably undercited papers published in 2004 by Richard H. Zander regarding “Minimal values of reliability of Bootstrap and Jackknife proportions, Decay index, and Bayesian posterior probability”, and Matthew Spencer and co-workers on the “Phylogenetics of artificial manuscripts”. Two papers that should have been read by anyone trying to infer trees from morphological data including fossil taxa, or non-trivial data in general.

Subtropical ⊊ warm temperate

In this post, I will give an introduction into the main climate zone concepts, which are too often confused in non-climatic literature.

One date that is missing in many scientific publications

In most journals, the peer-review process is poorly documented. Typically, one is provided only several dates, and possibly the name of the editor. I'll share some light onto the dates found on some of my papers. Review process transparency is, ultimately, the only choice, when these dates should have any value for authors (producers) and readers (consuments).

Add-on zur Wahl-O-Mat Distanzanalyse: Die Antworten der Big-Six in einem Bild

Hier noch eine kleine Spielerei für die, die auf einen Blick sehen wollen, wie die Big-Six, die Parteien mit realistischen Chancen in den Bundestag reinzukommen, zu den 36 Wahl-O-Mat Fragen stehen.

Wahl-O-Mat 2017 – wie nah sind sich eigentlich die Parteien?

Als in Frankreich (EU-Land) lebender Deutscher (anderes EU-Land), habe ich leider keinen Einfluß auf die Zusammensetzung des Parlaments und der Regierung, deren Politik mein tägliches Leben bestimmt. Aber – zumindestens theoretisch – könnte ich an der Bundestagwahl teilnehmen.

Liberal denial and diving into another reality

Are you also suffering from liberal denial as I do? When you read this post, you will find out soon enough. But the most important thing first: When you suffer from liberal denial illness, and are eligible to vote: Don’t forget to do it next time! Particularly, if you are a U.S. citizen.

The review process should be transparent not confidential

A few days ago, I was alerted to a paper on Zelkova by Zhang et al., published in Tree Genetics & Genomes, because the authors cited our study from 2005 (Denk & Grimm 2005). Although, I’m out-of-business, I had to look at it (old habits), and I lost it. How could this pass the review process?