via The Palaeontological Association: A short online workshop to discuss the ethics of sourcing palaeontological material. The impetus for this workshop was from recent palaeontological studies on amber from Myanmar, the mining of which along with other natural resources is a source of ethnic conflict in Myanmar. The workshop is on December 15, 2020.
The recent publication of a number of high-profile articles in the popular scientific press discussing aspects of the Myanmar amber trade has stimulated renewed interest and debate in how we as scientific community develop best practice in sample collection and long-term stewardship. Whilst these articles are focused on one geographic region and a specific type of fossilisation, the wider problems highlighted in these articles are in no way limited to this specific case study. Indeed, these articles have acted as a spotlight on many longstanding and unresolved issues that we as a community are only just starting to think about and address.
Since publication of these articles, several groups of palaeobiologists working in different areas of our broad discipline have responded. Naturally, this has resulted in widely differing standpoints and subsequent recommendations. The Editorial Board that oversees publication of both the Palaeontological Association’s journals (Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology) has also been having similar discussions and has also encountered differing opinions on the best way forward. Yet, as a community it is important that we act in a coherent and coordinated manner to promote and embed sound ethical practices throughout the scientific process, to ensure integrity and maximise opportunities for samples to be stored, accessed and studied in perpetuity. However, it is also clear that we need to look beyond issues around work carried out in the present and start to address legacy issues surrounding many collections. These issues need to be addressed openly and honestly. Ideally, resolving these issues should also be done in a coherent and coordinated manner.
The Palaeontological Association would like to facilitate this debate, as a leading learned society with a broad membership covering many sub-disciplines and as a leading publisher of papers covering a broad research base. Consequently, we are holding a half-day workshop prior to our virtual Annual Meeting in order to discuss these issues. This event is open to all, free of charge. If you are interested in giving a short talk as part of the workshop please e-mail the Chair of the Organising Committee, Dr Jack Matthews (email@example.com) or the workshop organiser and Chair of the Editorial Board, Dr Barry Lomax (firstname.lastname@example.org), with a suggested talk title and a brief description of the area you’d like to discuss.