Redubbing Peer Review

November 26, 2009

Roger has a new post up on any attempt to redefine peer review. It’s worth a read. I don’t really disagree with his main point about the spirit of peer review, and he’s certainly pretty well entrenched in the politics of this whole thing, so I think he’s right to say that the crowding-out strategy isn’t a very good one. Peer review will win in the end, even without FOIA requests and stolen e-mails. Which is all to say: I think we should still put a good deal of stock in articles that pass peer review, and we should also weigh strongly the credibility of journals.

Given the reactions to the CRU e-mails coming from more skeptical quarters, however, and given Godwin’s law, one suspects that maybe this video captures what some think was going on.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


  1. Since Roger attributes to me opinions I do not hold, nor have ever stated, I’d just like to make clear that I have not called for a ‘short circuiting’ of the peer-review process. Nothing I said in the NPR interview, nor in any of the emails, nor on RealClimate can possibly be interpreted in that light except by someone determined to misrepresent my views.

    To be clear, peer-review is necessary, but not sufficient, and of course sometimes it lets through papers that in most circumstances would not have been published in the form they were. The evidence that the emails revealed about breakdowns in the peer-review process should concern even Roger. Indeed, they concerned the editors at Climate Research so much that six of them resigned – including Hans von Storch, who is not someone who is inclined to be pressured to do so by some imagined clique.

    Roger’s putting of words in my mouth to score juvenile points is pathetic.

    • First, thanx for posting the hitler youtube I provided. Yeah, godwin’s law, blah, blah. That’s a thoughtful response?? The video is funny!. And funny always has a basis in truth. Thanx for doing your part to support Mr Godwin.

      Regarding Schmidt’s [I assume that’s the ‘Gavin’ above; the same Gavin who tucks his tail between his legs and runs away yelping from any neutral, moderated and preferably televised debate on the repeatedly debunked CO2=CAGW conjecture, ever since he blamed his stunning debate loss on the fact that he’s short, and his victorious opponent was tall] complaint about Roger Pielke Jr’s comments, eg:

      “Schmidt suggests that in order to short circuit the ability of their political opponents to cherry pick and blow out of proportion studies that the activists scientists did not agree with, they saw a convenient short cut: Simply reshape the peer review system such that those papers don’t ever appear or go unmentioned in scientific assessments. The problem with this strategy, of course, is that many climate scientists (and presumably others inside and outside of the scientific establishment) are unwilling to cede ownership of the ‘truth’ to a small clique of scientists.”

      Yes, the truth would be so refreshing. But based on the shenanigans we’ve seen, the truth is not in the CRU clique. And regarding the deliberate misdirection of labeling the insider who blew the whistle a “hacker”, anyone with a basic understanding of human nature who reads those emails knows that the CRU wasn’t hacked from the outside. Eventually the leaker’s identity will emerge [I’m sure the CRU gang has had their heads together over this, frantically trying to narrow down the leaker’s identity]. But for those lacking an understanding of how human nature works, this provides some helpful background on Mr Schmidt:

      Gavin’s elaborate description of the hacking attempt at RC is, in my humble opinion, nothing more than an attempt to add meat to the hacking theory in order to increase the vilification of the theoretical hackers. Gavin has demonstrated this kind of misdirection in the past in the Mystery Man incident where he attempted to obfuscate his own involvement in a data correction to station files held by the British Antarctic Survey. In this new spirit of transparency Gavin, why don’t you send Anthony the log files that demonstrate this attempted break in at realclimate.org?

      The gauntlet is down. Will Gavin cooperate, and send the files? Or will he continue to claim that an outside hacker exposed the CRU fraud?

    • Gavin, you are part of the cabal that DID short-circuit the peer review process, as is clear in the e-mails. Your actions have brought this upon yourself.

  2. Gavin-

    I quoted the NPR excerpt in full, so they are in fact your own words.

    Here again is the excerpt:

    Journals are supposed to be impartial filters that let good ideas rise to the top and bad ideas sink to the bottom. But the stolen emails show that a group of scientists has decided that’s not working well enough. So they have resorted to strong tactics — including possible boycotts — to keep any paper they think is dubious from reaching the pages of a journal.

    “In any other field (a bad paper) would just be ignored,” says Gavin Schmidt at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. “The problem is in the climate field has become extremely politicized, and every time some nonsense paper gets into a proper journal, it gets blown out of all proportion.”

    Most of the papers Schmidt and his colleagues object to challenge the mainstream view of climate science. Schmidt says they may be wrong or even deceptive, but they are still picked up by politicians, pundits and businesses who are skeptical of climate change.


    Perhaps Gavin cares to explain what he _really_ meant here.

    • That quote speaks for itself. It is simply a statement of facts.

      You paraphrase me saying:

      So Schmidt suggests that in order to short circuit the ability of their political opponents to cherry pick and blow out of proportion studies that the activists scientists did not agree with, they saw a convenient short cut: Simply reshape the peer review system such that those papers don’t ever appear or go unmentioned in scientific assessments.

      Every statement and innuendo in that statement is wrong. I am not an activist scientist. I try just to be an active one. I have never advocated ‘reshaping’ the peer review system. Please quote me saying anything of the sort if you can? I have never argued that relevant papers shouldn’t be cited, and in the cases that *Jones* mentioned, both papers were (correctly) discussed in the IPCC report.

      I find it impressive that you can read anything I said arguing for a stronger peer review system as arguing for a short-circuiting of that system.

      Since your interpretation of the Soon and Baliunas/”Climate Research” affair is so diametrically opposed to mine, I presume then you think it’s fine for editors to grease the way for incompetent papers to get into the literature. Some self-interest there perhaps?

      • Gavin-

        The phrase “activist scientist” represent my characterization of your behavior. You are free to disagree with that characterization. But trust me, my characterization is widely shared.

        I do not think it appropriate for editors to grease the way for incompetent or competent papers to get into the literature. And I certainly don’t want a small group of like minded people trying to take over aspects of the peer review process so that they can serve as gatekeepers.

        I comment on other points below here:

        I do have a very different view of the Soon/Baliunas episode than you do, and guess what? It is OK that people disagree or have different views. It is your continued insistence that your views are always right and those holding different views are somehow malign which has gotten you and your colleagues into trouble. Try this phrase on for size “agree to disagree” — it might be useful sometimes.

        The world will survive in the presence of a diversity of perspectives on complex matters, and yes, even the publication of the occasional bad paper in the peer reviewed literature.

        Let me quote your boss James Hansen on these matters:

        “… rather than trying so hard to prohibit publication of shoddy science, which is impossible, it is better that reviews, such as by IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences, summarize the full range of opinions and explain clearly the basis of the scientific assessment.”


        He is right. The sooner you and your colleagues get over the idea that you can manage the peer review process and protect us all from bad papers, the better it will be for climate science.

  3. Gavin-

    Since you cite Hans von Storch as some sort of an authority here it is probably worth seeing what he has said about this episode:

    “The scandal around the stolen CRU-mails is rolling on; the interest, as documented by traffic on the internet is enormeous – and likely the damage done to the credibility of climate science by the unfortunate writing by Phil Jones and others as well. But inspite of this, one can interpret the whole affair also in positive way – namely that science was strong enough to overcome the various gatekeeping efforts, even it may take a few years.”

    And also:

    “Interesting exchanges, and evidences, are contained about efforts to destroy “Climate Research”; that we in the heydays of the hockeystick debate shared our ECHO-G data with our adversaries; and that Mike Mann was successful to exclude me from a review-type meeting on historical reconstructions in Wengen (demonstrating again his problematic but powerful role of acting as a gatekeeper.)

    I would assume that more interesting issues will be found in the files, and that a useful debate about the degree of politicization of climate science will emerge. A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC.”

    Doesn’t sound like his primary concern is the so-called “breakdown” of peer review that allowed your adversaries to publish papers that you dislike. It looks like he is concerned with another sort of “breakdown” in the process.

    Also, you will want to get von Storch’s story straight before you misrepresent it again. he resigned because he was not allowed to write an editorial about revamping the peer review process, not simply in protest over a paper, see:


    There von Storch explains that:

    “I have been often in the crosss-fire of alarmists and skeptics, two politicized gangs of climate activists – who often have something useful to say, but who are conditioned by their respective loyalties to their “agendas”, while not being too much interested in providing the cold and impassionate science needed to come up with reasonable and acceptable climate policies.”

    I think that it is safe to assume that you are in one of these “gangs” of activists.

  4. Hey Gavin:

    Thanks for piping in. I won’t comment on the pathos, but I will say that I think you’re understating things on NPR when you say that it’s the nonsense papers that get blown out of proportion. From what I’ve been able to tell, it’s any paper that doesn’t toe a very narrow line; so any paper at all, basically, even very good ones, get manipulated by people like Morano to raise unwarranted doubts in the minds of those who don’t know much better. This external political pressure, I’d guess, leads climate scientists either to circle the wagons (as can be partly gleaned from the e-mails), or simply to bow out of the debate entirely…and that’s a problem for climate science. Your work on Real Climate, I think, helps to tamp down some of these misconceptions, but consider how much time you spend doing what is basically PR work: clarifying the science to people who otherwise don’t get it.

    You obviously don’t limit your view to nonsense papers in your NPR comments, but I think one could easily conclude that you mean that there are good papers and there are bad papers, and that the bad papers are the problem.

    • It’s more than that, Ben…Gavin and his cronies also sent their own papers to each other to ensure that they were NOT given proper review.

    • You say “cronies,” others say “peers.” Who else is supposed to evaluate the work?

    • Ben, I think rather than “any paper that doesn’t toe a very narrow line” it would be better to say “any paper prone to misinterpretation.” Note that it’s become an increasingly common practice in recent years for authors of such papers to insert what amount to disclaimers in an attempt to ensure that such misuse can’t occur.

      Of course the papers intended for misuse (Klotzbach et al e.g.) are a different story.

      • Good point. Language can be tricky like that.

      • Steve Bloom-

        As a co-author of Klotzbach et al. I challenge you to back up your assertion that it was “intended for misuse”. It is a solid paper.

        You can’t of course. The paper is peer reviewed, which means that you are free to submit your own analysis to the literature to explain where it is wrong.

        I will again point out that the paper depends upon the existence of a warming trend and accumulating greenhouse gas emissions. But perhaps you object to its treatment of boundary layer dynamics?

      • Why in the world would I be interested in what a political scientist thinks about boundary layer dynamics?

        What links all of the Klotzbach et al authors together is a common belief that the consequences of continued global warming have been overstated. Good luck on your continued search for scientific support for that view, but don’t be surprised as you find it more and more difficult to maintain credibility while doing so.

        As for a refutation, as someone whose background is much more in political science than anything related to climate science, I wouldn’t dream of trying to contribute to the literature. In any case others are doing a far more thorough job than I could hope to.

    • This is (almost) a very good point. There are many papers that get traction in the blogosphere because of a misreading, or misunderstanding of the a perfectly fine piece of science. Recent examples include Smith et al (2007?), or indeed our recent paper on emission-based attributions of short-lived climate forcings (Shindell et al, 2009) (Hey, even Roger liked that one!).

      But this isn’t because they don’t ‘toe a line’ that they get picked out. Remember there are thousands of papers published on this stuff every year – and they cover a huge range of territory. But there are some fault lines in the public discourse that means that a perception that a paper projects on to one side or other of an old public argument can quickly get the blogo-juices flowing. Note that these ‘public arguments’ are usually very different from the actual debates in the scientific community.

      Obviously no-one wants to prevent publication of papers just because they might be misinterpreted. People do need sometimes to do a little more work to prevent that, but that is an issue related to public outreach about results, not the results themselves. No-one should even be trying to stops sincere papers that end up being wrong from being published. Sometimes wrong is a great spur for better work – the methane from plants paper in Nature for instance, or Lindzen’s Iris paper or his new paper with Choi. These are things that the peer-reviewed literature deals with well.

      The problem papers are the ones that are so obviously bad that no new insight or analysis is required to rebut them at all. Soon and Baliunas, Douglass et al (multiple times), McLean et al, this year. And unsurprisingly these are the ones that get the full court press by the political operatives. Good scientists then feel obligated to write comments and rebuttals to clear up the confusion which, while it can sometimes be an advance on the science, mostly serve as warning signs to people coming later.

      Good or even mediocre papers should be published – whether they end up being right or wrong. Bad papers shouldn’t.

      Peer-review is never going to perfect, but it seems to me that complacency in the face of a determined campaign to undermine it is not the appropriate attitude.

      • Gavin-

        We agree on most of these points … where we disagree is in your statement:

        “Good or even mediocre papers should be published – whether they end up being right or wrong. Bad papers shouldn’t.”

        I certainly don’t want you and your colleagues (or any other self-selected small group) in charge of deciding what is a good and bad paper, and working actively to prevent the publication of those papers that you deem “bad.” I certainly don’t want you guys managing the peer review process to prevent papers from being published or cited in assessments.

        The peer review process is such that occasionally papers that you and I think are bad will get published (Evan Mills, anyone?;-). The proper response is not to try to politicize the peer review process along with like minded allies, but to patiently and systematically rebut those bad papers in the literature.

        On your concern that your political opponents exploit the bad papers in ways that you don’t like, I have little sympathy. Justifications for action on climate change depend very little on this or that paper just published, good or bad. You are confusing the news cycle with the process of scientific publication.

        I see no evidence of a campaign to undermine peer review, other than the one that you and your colleagues are waging.

      • Roger, that’s what they invented arXiv for. The bad papers go to die, the good ones eventually get published. The problem is the zombies that walk in the night through some editor’s dreams.

        If you doubt this, take a look at such classics and Gerlich and Tscheusner 2009, anything by Chilingar, and about another twenty or thiry papers on Cohenite’s top ten

        You used to be able to have a laugh and ignore them. No longer.

    • Hope this goes in the right place, Ben, Gavin is not engaged in PR work, he is engaged in public education.

      There is no better example of this than the two Real Climate threads on the purloined Emails, where a powerfully large amount of information is being transferred by him to his readers along the way.

      • Maybe so. I didn’t mean it perjoratively. I just meant to say that it’s a public effort aimed at clarification. I know some academics feel uncomfortable acknowledging that their work has a PR dimension, but I don’t see why they should be uncomfortable about this. Basically, we all engage in some amount of public relations… but, eh, education/relations, I’m happy to cast it either way. It’s a very important job, and I’m glad he’s doing it.

  5. Roger,

    A quote is a quote, but about your interpretation one could argue. On your blog, I first read your interpretation, and then the quote, and I don’t find them matching.

    You make it sound as if this is about a clique-ish 1984-ish definition of “truth” that has to be defended against more free-thinking spirits, whereas my interpretation would be more along the lines of if someone claims in a paper that the theory of gravity is incorrect by pointing to those countless observations of birds in the air. I.e. plain wrong (or more charitably, a misguided interpretation of otherwise correct observations).

    I realize that the difference between a clique-ish definition of truth and plain wrong is not one of black and white of course; I am merely trying to paint the extremes in my analogies above.

    • Bart- Pretty sure I don’t understand your point, no allusion to 1984 was intended!

      • Roger,

        Skip the 1984 remark, and I’m pretty sure you understand what I mean.

    • Bart- My point has nothing to do with rightness or wrongness of the science, but the control of the peer review process by a clique-ish group. “Wrong” science (or “bad” in Gavin’s words) do not justify the behavior of such a clique. If a peer review process is flawed, then fix the process. However, the only evidence that I see that the process is flawed are the actions of Gavin et al.

      • I again challenge Roger to produce one scintilla of evidence that I have in any way undermined or improperly acted with respect to peer-review anywhere at any journal on any paper at any time.

        Baseless accusations do not become true just through frequency of repetition.

        Note to Roger. Criticising a paper that did appear in the literature does not count.

      • Could you clarify your last comment Gavin? One of the concerns that has emerged is that the ‘gatekeepers’ are exercising their peer review status to prevent papers they don’t like from being published. That theme is pretty evident in the leaked e:mails.

        Your statement “Criticising a paper that did not appear in the literature does not count” could be interpreted as you justifying your actions in causing a paper to be rejected by one or more journals, and that you think that kind of gatekeeping is OK. That makes you (and your colleagues) arbiters on what should or shouldn’t be published, which is what Roger is saying.

      • @rcrejects Dec-1-2009 11:54
        Funny, you just invented a “did not appear” in Gavin’s answer.
        Actually, he write “did appear”.

        So your whole comment collapses, doesn’t it?

      • Oh, and:

        Isn’t the peer review process actually *meant* to keep bad science out of the literature?

        Aren’t the reviewers always some sort of gate keepers?

        On any very specific topic, how many competent peer reviewers are there? A good reviewer must know all or at least most of the other relevant literature, must be able to make methodological, data and statistical plausibility checks (because probably most reviewers cannot completely replicate the research being presented in the paper).

        Just how do you think the peer review process should work and how would you make sure that no worthwhile paper gets suppressed?

  6. This isn’t how honest science works: click

    • Ah, it’s good old Willis. In that case I think “clique” would be more apt, Smokey.

  7. Ben, you said:

    “I think we should still put a good deal of stock in articles that pass peer review, and we should also weigh strongly the credibility of journals.”

    I disagree very strongly with this statement. You are advocating the simple acceptance of the claims of perceived “experts”, on matters of significance, ad vericundiam. Sheep should stay sheep, eh?

    People should think for themselves, especially on matters that may affect their future decision-making. Simply accepting the claims of others, on the basis of who they are or where they published, is always a mistake.

    It shouldn’t matter whether a paper has passed any kind of review, or where it was published, what does matter is the claims that are made, and their verifiability.

    This is the major problem with the current state of much of climate science today. I think all of the journals have policies that require the archiving of all requisite supplementary information upon the publication of a paper, but few of the journals enforce this policy. This, in my mind, renders the conclusions of these unverifiable claims as valueless. They do not affect my decision-making.

    • “People should think for themselves, especially on matters that may affect their future decision-making. Simply accepting the claims of others, on the basis of who they are or where they published, is always a mistake.”

      Sorry, but this does not match our 10.000-year culture of division of labor.
      It is just impossible to ask that people who make decisions (like, everybody, in the polling booth) should always ‘think for themselves’ and understand every detail of what they are deciding on. That’s what we have scientists and ‘experts’ for – to be trusted consultants on complex topics that one cannot possibly research and understand oneself.
      And asking that only people who fully understand an issue should decide would give a very small clique of (self-elected?) people full gate-keeper (dictatorial?) control.
      Managers in business and politics are often forced to decide under uncertainty. This is actually the very nature of management. Every Fool can decide if there is *no* uncertainty.
      Managers are still responsible for their decisions – at the end of the day at least for their choice of ‘experts’ they trust.
      Being a manager, I would still trust the IPCC experts more than the ‘sceptics’ side. This is because I perceive the sceptics side to be much more politicised, spun, aggressive, irrational and secretive than the other one.
      Which is a shame – because it drowns out relevant critical thinking and information in a sea of lies, spin, torn facts and plain brain deadness.

      • Yes, this is way scientists have a big responsibility. If they don’t live up to it, then we cannot trust them. As long as any Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Gavin Smith, etc are in place, it’s our duty to fight against any policies dealing with climate change. Everybody really concerned about global warming will do anything to kick these people out. Those who just want to move are not to be taken serious.

      • Intelligert,

        1. What are the specific, substantiated accusations against every one of the bunch of people you name? I can see that Phil Jones might have stepped across the line, but the others???

        2. Thought experiment: 50 years in the future, the planet is 1.5 °C warmer than today and there is no end of warming in sight because humanity chose the BAU scenario. The people you named might very well be dead by then. The nitpicking discussions of our time will just sound like cynic cryptobabble to the people who will have to deal with a seriously warming world. They will look of the history of climate science and might find your comment in an archive of this discussion.

        “What on earth were these guys thinking?” will they ask. “They didn’t act on global warming because of some irrelevant, because largely inconsequential glitch in emotion control amongst some of the scientists involved?”

        Are you kidding me? Remove all the named people and their papers from climate science and nothing substantial will have changed! The planet is still warming due to human-caused GHG emisions. The consequences are still potentially dire. Millions, if not billions of people will still be adversely affected…

  8. Apologies to everyone that I’m not participating in this discussion more. We’ve got a house full of people and I’m completely under with wine and potatoes. Fun to check in, though, and read what others have had to say. More in a bit. Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. “The problem is in the climate field has become extremely politicized, and every time some nonsense paper gets into a proper journal, it gets blown out of all proportion.”

    If the motivation of a scientist is to prevent papers being published in peer reviewed journals for political reasons isn’t that an activist scientist? Shouldn’t objective science rebut such a paper also in the peer reviewed literature? We’ve seen many papers challenged on various grounds in the blogosphere and the response is always if your criticism has merit publish it. Yet the reverse doesn’t seem to hold true, the activist scientist prefers to subvert the process and prevent publication to ensure their political foes can not use it.

    • Not mentioned so far on this thread, but surely worthy of comment, is the practice in recent times of climate scientists releasing alarmist press releases that get widespread coverage in the MSM, because they fit the pre-conceptions of MSM (reflecting, at least until recently, the IPCC view of things). In some instances, as I recall, the press releases tend to ‘exaggerate’ the concerns expressed more cautiously in the paper itself.

  10. Here’s the thing: there are many, many venues for publication. If you have a legitimate gripe about the politics involved in peer review, just find the appropriate journal, write up a sensible article, and see if you can get it past your peer reviewers. It’s not that hard. Your article just has to make sense, be relevant to the current discussion, and introduce something interesting. Unfortunately for some of the people commenting on these blogs, their positions don’t make sense, aren’t even close to relevant to the current discussion, and don’t offer much of interest.

    • “there are many, many venues for publication. If you have a legitimate gripe about the politics involved in peer review, just find the appropriate journal, write up a sensible article, and see if you can get it past your peer reviewers.”

      That is how the process should work, but in this case we are talking about scientists working to exclude papers from publication so that political forces won’t make use of them. Shop around, find a journal and if published these scientists organize a boycott or seek to remove journal editors? That is the discussion in the E-mails that brought this subject to light.

    • You imagine that peer review is far more coordinated than it really is or ever could be. Maybe a small group of people (putting forward a lot of effort) could control a few journals, but there are still many journals that they wouldn’t have control over. Knowing something about peer review, it just seems impossible to me that even very high profile people could completely control a journal circuit. I think the charge is way overblown.

      • Ben,

        That is where the “I will redefine peer review” comment comes in. I suspect what Jones was getting at is he would remove certain journals from the list of peer reviewed publications that can be cited by the IPCC reports.

        The attitude revealed in that comment is suppored by fact that alarmists have long history of rejecting papers from peer reviewed journals if they are not journals that they approve of (show E&E paper to any alarmist and they won’t even look at it).

        IOW, there are only a small number of journals that high impact climate science can be published in and these journals and, by your logic, could be controlled by an small group of influencial people.

  11. Well, it’s been 3 days, and so I’d just like to underline that Roger has not provided a single quote from me or any evidence whatsoever to support his baseless accusations that I wanted or plan to ‘short-circuit’ the peer-review process on any journal or any paper at any time in the past or the future.

    Readers, and our host, may draw their own conclusions.

    • The “silence is deafening,” as Steve McIntyre likes to say.

    • Hi Gavin, Thanks Ben for alerting me that this thread was still alive and kicking. I am happy to respond to Gavin, though if he wants my attention he can email me or visit my blog, which I will see regularly.

      Anyway, I wrote up a post about this:


      Clearly my view is that Gavin’s defense of the behavior in the emails with respect to peer review undermines peer review.

      Let me ask Gavin a few questions:

      1. Was there anything in the emails with respect to peer review specifically, that you find troubling or of concern? A yes or no is just fine.

      2. If yes, please explain.

      If your answer is no then that will speak pretty loudly.

      I have clicked the “notify me of comments by email” that Ben has below, so I’ll be alerted to your response.

    • Gavin, you are not a scientist.

  12. Ben, this is a really good blog. I mean, we’ve got some heated discussions, but I think you’re much more fair than any of the other blogs I’ve run across coming from your institution.

    I would like to point out that Roger Pielke Jr. has insinuated on multiple occasions that Schmidt has engaged in some untoward behavior. When challenged by Schmidt, Pielke Jr. has offered up no evidence to back up the allegations. Pretty poor behavior.

    I would also note that Roger is making no sense by claiming some high ground that peer review should not halt the publication of bad. If this is true, then what is the point of peer review?

    • Thanks for the comments on the blog, Paul. I do what I can.

      I’ll let Roger respond to your comments on his own.

    • how can you be so stupid to make a comment about peer review without understanding what peer review is?

  13. Oops. Error. Should have written “publication of bad papers.”

    Is Roger going to listen to a student in his class who says that Roger should not be deciding if papers submitted for a class are bad? That Roger shouldn’t be the “gatekeeper” for the grades in a class he teaches?

    It’s just nonsense.

    • Paul, your analogy is off target, but peer review is not centralized like my class is with a single decision maker. Your analogy is more apt to describe the role of a single reviewer, not the entire process.

  14. Roger, thanks for addressing one of the issues I raised, sort of, while ignoring the fact that you have made allegations against Schmidt without backing them up. You *still* have not addressed that issue.

    But let’s continue with your analogy. Are you seriously trying to make the claim that Schmidt has some strangle on peer review? Every journal? There must be dozens of journals out there. And yet, you still imply that Schmidt can lock out papers.

    Everyone is waiting for you to address this second issue.

    • Sure, Paul, please do point out where I claimed that Gavin has a strangle on peer review.

  15. I mean, let’s be honest, Roger. It’s not like Gavin has been able to stop you from publishing in Energy and Environment which von Storch described as “attractive for skeptic papers. They know they can come through and that interested people make sure the paper enters the political realm.”

    • Paul, you haven’t done your homework. See the Wikipedia page on E&E. Nice try though 😉

  16. Here’s the wike page for E&E, Pielke. Would love an explanation. Anything other than “haven’t done your homework” would be greatly appreciated.

    Wonder if we’ll be sitting here for days like Schmidt.

    • Paul-

      You can see my quote there. Care to explain why a paper submitted in 1998 is relevant to this conversation?

      That was a damn good paper by the way;-) Subsequently updated and extended in a Proc. Roy. Soc. peer-reviewed analysis in 2007. So if you have critiques about the paper, lets hear them.

  17. Again, Pielke…..tiresome….care to address the quote from von Storch? Care to address Schmidt?

  18. Roger, nice duck and dodge, mixed with an admirable bob and weave. Now I can see why you are so widely admired.

  19. Unsurprisingly, instead of actually quoting anything I have said or done, Roger prefers to imply some vague guilt by association, without even specifying what anyone else is supposed to be guilty of.

    I think readers will conclude, rightly, that Roger’s accusations about my opinions on peer review are nothing more than smears.

    One single quote Roger, just one.

    • Gavin-

      I am curious about what accusation I am to supposed to have made about you that leads you to demand a quote? Please show me this.

      Also, I have asked you a very straightforward question. Please reply.

    • Gavin, actually no, the readers conclude something very different: that you are about the most incompetent, self-loving and arrogant piece of wannabe scientist that the world has ever seen. You alone are the main reason why climate science has this bad reputation. Ff global warming will come, we will make YOU responsible for it.

  20. Roger, Your English comprehension appears to be somewhat lacking. Using the verb ‘suggest’ implies that at some point, somewhere, someone has actually made a suggestion. (Not too hard a concept, I would have thought). The suggestion that you attribute to me is that the peer review process should be reshaped or short circuited for political ends. All I have asked for is a single quote that demonstrates that I have made that suggestion or anything even remotely resembling it. Just one.

    The idea that you are being straightforward is amusing though. Thanks for brightening my morning.

    • Gavin-

      Is this really about semantics? OK then. My OED includes in the definition of “suggest” — “to express indirectly” which is exactly as I intended it when I wrote the post.

      Your defense of the practices in the emails **suggests** that you condone those practices. So, once again:

      1. Was there anything in the emails with respect to peer review specifically, that you find troubling or of concern? A yes or no is just fine.

      2. If yes, please explain.

      i will be happy to make this a top line post on my blog so that your answers are more fully visible.

      Finally, do you really have to end every exchange with a snark?

      • Roger, who do you think you are kidding? Your utterances (here and on your blog) towards Gavin are positively dripping in snark. It may be more veiled, coated in outwardly neutral language, but it’s there. Stop being so disingenuous.

    • Gavin- As promised:


      I look forward to your responses to set the record straight. Thanks.

  21. Reading this exchange is like watching grade school kids argue on a playground.

    Gavin does not allow people who disagree with him to post at his blog Real Climate. I would not expect he would allow skeptics to be published anywhere else if it is within his power to express his opinion to do otherwise.
    It should be no surprise that he would say nothing to cast doubt on his Hockey team buddies here or elsewhere.

    Gavin will never answer Roger’s question “Was there anything in the emails with respect to peer review specifically, that you find troubling or of concern?

  22. Duck and dodge…..I just want to point out the complete Alice in Wonderland quality to having Roger Pielke Jr position himself as some judge of peer review. “Redefining” peer review and all.

    Just a couple of years ago, Roger was taking people to task for laundering grey literature, which Roger defined as citing non peer reviewed articles in a peer reviewed study.

    Well, Roger just posted his latest peer reviewed study on his website.

    Let’s take a peek under the hood.

    Okay, 45 citations.

    16 Citations that are not peer reviewed. Two that are of questionable peer-review.

    I would like to point out that there is one citation that is nothing more than a power point hosted on the skeptic blog, Climate Audit.

    Pielke, R. A. Jr and McIntyre, S., 2007. Changes in Spatial
    Distribution of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones,
    NG31A-07. Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical
    Union, December. http://www.climateaudit.org/

    • Roger’s citations are not particularly unusual. The powerpoint you refer to as “just hosted on the skeptic blog climate audit” was in fact a presentation to an AGU meeting. Please note the abstract on the AGU website:

      AGU link

      Note at the top of the link, they even indicate how to cite the paper. Now, they wouldn’t tell you how to cite it if they didn’t expect it to be cited, would they?

      This citation is perfectly acceptable, although Roger’s formatting seems different to that listed by the abstract (the presentation itself might require different format though).

      Let’s be honest here, Paul: you are just on a fishing expedition. What irks is your preconception about Roger’s views, rather than any details of his analysis. If his conclusions suited your opinions better, you wouldn’t care what he had cited.

      • Spence, please read before writing. Roger made the claim that you shouldn’t cite non peer reviewed articles in a peer-reviewed study. Roger’s clever term for this practice is “laundering grey literature.”

        It’s Roger’s sword to fall upon. Nice try.

      • I checked Roger’s article as you suggested (through old prometheus’ rather painfully slow archives), but Roger didn’t criticise the act of peer reviewed litereature citing non-peer reviewed literature. His claim seemed more nuanced than that to me (although I could be wrong).

        Specifically, the IPCC was tasked with reviewing the peer-reviewed literature. However, Roger notes that the IPCC reports cover non-peer reviewed literature as well. They do that through a back-door mechanism of citing the non-peer reviewed stuff through a citation by a peer-reviewed paper.

        I understood Roger’s criticism as the IPCC quoting non-peer reviewed literature in its reports whilst claiming to only review the peer-reviewed literature. He is not arguing that the mechanism used to do this is wrong (i.e. non-peer reviewed citations), but the way this mechanism is being exploited by the IPCC is problematic.

        Of course, it could be that I’ve misinterpreted Roger’s claims; that happens.

      • Spence_UK, You’ve got it exactly right. Thanks.

    • Climate Audit is not a skeptic blog, little scumbag.

  23. Oh boy….Here we go. In a post on Prometheus, Roger Pielke Jr wrote, “have noticed recently a number of peer-reviewed papers that reference so-called “grey literature” (e.g., agency, company, NGO reports) which hasn’t itself been peer reviewed. Then the peer-reviewed study that cites the grey literature is subsequently cited in another publication to refer to the information in the original non-peer reviewed source. This is a way to give the veneer of peer review to a non-peer-reviewed study. Here is an example of this dynamic.”

    When you click on the link for the “dynamic” Roger then hops all over a paper published in Science by Evan Mills.

    Nice try, Roger.

    • Oh dear. Paul, it is clear that you have misinterpreted the article. You are ascribing views to Roger that he does not hold.

      You could have argued that was the impression the article gave, i.e. it was poorly written. But by asking me to read it, this opportunity is lost to you. Note how, when I read it, I stressed that it was my interpretation of the article? But since Roger has confirmed that was his original intention, we can safely conclude that the only problem here is your reading of the article – which is neither what the original author intended, nor that which someone reading it carefully would take away.

      Something tells me you’re not going to let this go though; so, feel free to have the last word.

  24. Paul-

    What is the title of my post that you are linking to? FYI Mills was not peer reviewed, it was an opinion piece. The example can be found in my critique of Mills where I explain that the IPCC cited a 2000 Munich Re study (non-peer reviewed) which then Mills cited the IPCC as an independent source to support a claim. It was not however independent support.

    Anyway, while parsing things I wrote years ago is fun, wouldn’t you agree that key scientific claims should be peer reviewed, especially those cited by major scientific assessments like the IPCC?

    And if the IPCC lets in non-peer reviewed work, that might be a problem?

    Seems fairly obvious, but maybe you disagree.

  25. Roger, how many times do you have to be wrong in one day? I’m not saying a whole week, just one day? Give us all a hint?

    Although not to the full extent as the studies of new data, the analysis that Mills wrote, like all pieces that appear in that section of Science, are in fact peer reviewed. Why don’t you send an email over the editor and ask? Better yet, why don’t you publish something in Science besides a letter to the editor?

    I’m going to be generous….It’s Wednesday and I’m going out to dinner. I’m in a good mood. You’re not being dishonest. You’re not ducking and dodging. You’re simply an academic in his early forties, and you just didn’t know that.

    Nice attempt to duck your words of old. But a poor attempt to change the subject.

    • LOL. What’s your problem? Please, Give it up. Thinking was not made for you.

  26. Paul has been useful on one account. I came across a paper in a completely different field (a World Economic Forum paper), it seems worse than complete crap to me, it seems it was never peer reviewed, and I’ve been watching it get cited over and over.

    I had not heard the term grey literature before, and it is very nicely descriptive in this regard.

    So thank you Paul for mentioning it, and thank you very much Roger.

    Note: Paul, you’re sort of a loon.

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