Two developments suggest that Cook et al 2013 Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature may be soon be headed for “retraction watch”, since serious problems with the data are becoming evident, which when accounted for bring the 97% consensus figure into question.
First, there are new issues with the search system used to gather the papers, as Shub Niggurath explains at Bishop Hill:
The climate change literature comprises well over hundred thousand articles and books. Cook et al’s strategy was to focus on papers directly related to “global warming” or “global climate change” in Web of Science. Here’s how they describe it:
In March 2012, we searched the ISI Web of Science for papers published from 1991–2011 using topic searches for ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’. Article type was restricted to ‘article’, excluding books, discussions, proceedings papers and other document types.
A Web of Science search performed following the authors’ description to the letter actually returns 30,940 entries, not 12,464. Excluding the ‘Arts and Humanities Citation Index’ (A&HCI), this becomes 30,876. This is when search phrases are not enclosed in double-quotes (i.e., ‘global warming’ instead of “global warming”).
Scopus is an academic database covering technical, medical, and social science disciplines. Surprisingly, when Scopus is searched using the correct search phrases, a total of 19,417 entries are retrieved. A Web of Knowledge search returns ~21,488 records. These figures are 7473 records (Scopus) and ~9544 records (Web of Knowledge) greater than what Cook et al eventually analysed.
Second, more authors are now reporting that their papers were categorized improperly:
Is this an accurate representation of your paper?
“Certainly not correct and certainly misleading. The paper is strongly against AGW, and documents its absence in the sea level observational facts. Also, it invalidates the mode of sea level handling by the IPCC.” – Dr. Morner
“I am sure that this rating of no position on AGW by CO2 is nowhere accurate nor correct. Rating our serious auditing paper from just a reading of the abstract or words contained in the title of the paper is surely a bad mistake.” – Dr. Soon
“No, if Cook et al’s paper classifies my paper, ‘A Multidisciplinary, Science-Based Approach to the Economics of Climate Change’ as “explicitly endorses AGW but does not quantify or minimize,” nothing could be further from either my intent or the contents of my paper.” – Dr. Carlin