For the Guardian, it has been a week of finally coming to terms with what we’ve known here at WUWT for months now. The issues of Climategate are finally getting full sunlight in the UK, and it’s white hot light. Even Monbiot is calling for resignations beyond that of Phil Jones. Though Monbiot needs a bit of education on who “broke” these stories. It certainly wasn’t the Guardian.
By Fred Pearce
Scientists sometimes like to portray what they do as divorced from the everyday jealousies, rivalries and tribalism of human relationships. What makes science special is that data and results that can be replicated are what matters and the scientific truth will out in the end.
But a close reading of the emails hacked from the University of East Anglia in November exposes the real process of everyday science in lurid detail.
Many of the emails reveal strenuous efforts by the mainstream climate scientists to do what outside observers would regard as censoring their critics. And the correspondence raises awkward questions about the effectiveness of peer review – the supposed gold standard of scientific merit – and the operation of the UN’s top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The scientists involved disagree. They say they were engaged not in suppressing dissent but in upholding scientific standards by keeping bad science out of peer-reviewed journals. Either way, when passing judgment on papers that directly attack their own work, they were mired in conflicts of interest that would not be allowed in most professions.
The cornerstone of maintaining the quality of scientific papers is the peer review system. Under this, papers submitted to scientific journals are reviewed anonymously by experts in the field. Conducting reviews is seen as part of the job for academics, who are generally not paid for the work.
The papers are normally sent back to the authors for improvement and only published when the reviewers give their approval. But the system relies on trust, especially if editors send papers to reviewers whose own work is being criticised in the paper. It also relies on anonymity, so reviewers can give candid opinions.
Cracks in the system have been obvious for years. Yesterday it emerged that 14 leading researchers in a different field – stem cell research – have written an open letter to journal editors to highlight their dissatisfaction with the process. They allege that a small scientific clique is using peer review to block papers from other researchers.
Many will see a similar pattern in the emails from UEA’s Climatic Research Unit, which brutally expose what happens behind the scenes of peer review and how a chance meeting at a barbecue years earlier had led to one journal editor being suspected of being in the “greenhouse sceptics camp”.
The head of the CRU, Professor Phil Jones, as a top expert in his field, was regularly asked to review papers and he sometimes wrote critical reviews that may have had the effect of blackballing papers criticising his work.
Here is how it worked in one case.
Read the rest of this article at the Guardian here
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