Saturday 8 June 2024

Bibliographic Negligence in John's 2024 Paper

 "A small bullet-shaped boulder of welded tuff was found in a Stonehenge excavation in 1924, and apart from a brief examination by geologists from the Institute of Geological Sciences (IGS) around 1970, it has been stored out of sight and out of mind. Its geological source is uncertain. Following a detailed examination of its shape and surface characteristics it is now proposed that it has been subjected to glacial transport and that it has had a long and complex history."

Quote from: John, B. S.: A bluestone boulder at Stonehenge: implications for the glacial transport theory, E&G Quaternary Sci. J., 73, 117–134,, 2024.

Not so:

The Open University study included an analysis of Newall's RSN 18 sample in their geochemical investigation of the Stonehenge bluestones. In July 1985, they detached a fragment measuring 10 × 7 × 3.4 cm from RSN 18 for analysis and thin sectioning .. and referred to this sample as OU2 in their published outputs ( Thorpe et al., 1991; Williams‐ Thorpe & Thorpe, 1991).

Quote from: "Bevins, R., Ixer, R., Pearce, N., Scourse, J., & Daw, T. (2023). Lithological description and provenancing of a collection of bluestones from excavations at Stonehenge by William Hawley in 1924 with implications for the human versus ice transport debate of the monument's bluestone megaliths. Geoarchaeology, 1–15. "

As John knows the Open University team examined it in 1985, he mentions their sampling later in the paper. This disregard of antecedent research was defined by Eugene Garfield, Editor Emeritus of The Scientist, as “bibliographic negligence” or “citation amnesia”. Gallagher R. Citation violations. The Scientist 2009;23(5):13.

But more egregious is that he doesn't cite here the Bevins et al (2023) paper which provides evidence of a geological source but is also a complete detailed examination of the boulder which he relies on. The casual reader of his Abstract would assume that John, as the author, performed the only examination. Which would be very misleading.   

UPDATE The Bevins et al 2023 paper was preceded by a detailed article by them in Current Archaeology in 2022 which should have been cited before the full paper came out. (Dr John notes the 2023 paper came at a relatively late stage in the editing of his manuscript).

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