Leif Svalgaard on the experience of peer review

I’m remiss in getting this up until now, as Leif sent it back on May 12th. Prep, travel and recovery for ICCC4 took up quite a bit of my time, but I’m pleased to be able to offer this from Dr. Svalgaard now.

http://community.acs.org/journals/acbcct/cs/Portals/0/wiki/PeerReview.jpg

Cartoon from community.acs.org

Dr. Svalgaard writes:

Back in October WUWT had an article about my paper ‘Heliomagnetic Magnetic Field 1835-2009‘.

The paper has now gone through extensive peer review. I promised to let people in on the review process and can now do that. They contain a mixture of arcane technical points and general whining. The review history may be of general interest, at least as far the ‘flavor’ and tone of the reviews are concerned.

The entire review is condensed into a PDF file, which can be viewed below:

Leif_IDV09-Review-History

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79 thoughts on “Leif Svalgaard on the experience of peer review

  1. ….ahhh, yes, the perils of “publish or perish!”
    Since my BS tolerance level is very low, I rarely publish in peer-reviewed journals and have no aspirations for faculty tenure.
    The university tenure system is badly broken anyway, and probably contributes to some of the “scientific consensus” aspects of AGW, since young associate professors have to play the game and tailor their research & publications towards the mainstream if they want full professorship appointments.
    This momentum is so powerful, I really doubt if we’ll find true scientific dissent in the literature regarding warming. Dr. Lindzen does a great job swimming against the tide, but he’s really an exception.

  2. It is a long academic tradition that, after the first publication of results by data “producers” (e.g., the present authors), the original data is made public for independent verification and analysis.
    It is painfully clear that reviewer #2 has never worked with “climate scientists” particularly Mann, Jones, Briffa, Santer, Hansen, Schmidt, et al.
    This will take me a while to absorb since I am the catfish on the bank in this field.

  3. Way, way, way over my head, but Reviewer #2 did say:
    ….”It is a long academic tradition that, after the first publication of
    results by data “producers” (e.g., the present authors), the original data is made public for
    independent verification and analysis.”
    A tradition being challenged by some climate scientists?

  4. I used to have to worry about “publish or perish” in a field where their were two “camps” who disagreed about some basic science. Publishing was always a crap shoot as you never knew which “camp” you needed to write for.
    The ivory tower is made of paper, and someone lit a fire when big money came to research…

  5. Well done Leif! The second reviewer certainly spent a lot of time accusing you of having an agenda, and hiding data or results. Why it makes one think that this would be common in his circles. I think I’ll remain quite far removed from them.
    It is fascinating to read and try to pick up on the physics of the solar system. Were I younger, I’d be tempted to join in the hunt.
    Again, Well Done.

  6. The process exemplified here was contentious, but civil. I would expect no less on research topics that are not well known and have competing theories. Actually, despite what might seem like wasted effort entailed in review and response, it’s good to see that it was neither a rubber-stamping on one hand nor a dismissive rejection on the other. While not understanding anything about the topic, I still can see that improvements were made and the field advanced. The use of an independent adjudicator is a wise element in the process and keeps the editor’s role cleaner.

  7. A favourable peer review does not cause reality to support a mistaken or incomplete hypothesis.
    Nor does an adverse peer review discredit a hypothesis that matches real world observations.
    Any hypothesis that disturbs the subsisting majority view is likely to receive an adverse peer review even though a peer review is supposed to relate to methodology rather than content.
    I would support Dr. Svalgaard in ignoring ‘general whining’. I have noticed that ‘arcane technical points’ are usually resorted to when there is no more substantial objection.
    Of course, peer review should be a two way street. Often, those who dislike the process have no qualms when they get the opportunity to operate the process from the other side of the fence.
    Then there is the problem of defining a ‘peer’ when the basic science is as immature as climatology. I do not accept that there are currently enough scientists with a sufficiently broad and detailed multidisciplinary knowledge base to provide adequate peer review in relation to matters climatological.

  8. Brad says:
    May 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm
    The ivory tower is made of paper, and someone lit a fire when big money came to research…
    When do we start burning books?

  9. Following a more detailed reading of the article forming the basis of this thread and noting the comments going to and fro my primary reaction was that any data derived from pre the satellite era is pretty unreliable as to scale and timing as far as potential climate effects are concerned and even since the commencement of the satellite era great caution needs to be exercised due to a whole raft of calibration and other issues.
    Perhaps we should just look and learn as we observe day by day rather than excluding potentially fruitful possibilities on the basis of past ‘iffy’ and so flawed observations and assumptions.
    Interesting to see confirmation that Leif has to take it as well as dish it out 🙂

  10. Leif Svalgaard: Quite a read. I get the impression reviewer #2 was envious and wanted to write the paper himself. It has always been my view that review panels should be no less then three. I think your experience partly vindicates that view. While the review process worked this time one can easily see how it can easily be abused.

  11. I’ve often wondered how Leif could be so patient with blog commenters asking the same questions or making the same stupid mistakes over and over. Now I know. Rarely do blog comments on WUWT begin to approach the level of snark of some reviewers.
    Megalomanic???

  12. Reviewer #2 wrote:
    5. As to the title, I opposed to give the impression that the HMF is now estimated reliably. The authors say they followed my advice with the new title. Nothing could be further from truth. The present title is untruthful and megalomanic, leaving out any doubt on the correctness of the estimated HMF. Rather, the title should include some more fairness and judgment, and should be revised to something like “Geomagnetic based estimate of HM [sic] since 1835” or similar.

    Megalomanic? Of Leif’s posts here I’d say he can be remarkably assertive, but I’d note he deserves the right to be thus. Of course, if “Heliospheric Magnetic Field 1835-2009” is megalomanic (how can I argue with a real scientist?), I will have to revise my opinion of Leif’s comments.
    Reviewer #2’s comments probably resulted in more improvements than reviewer #1’s, but if you took to heart everything reviewer #2 wanted you’d have had to make him a co-author. 🙂
    All in all, you handled it well and the editor was fair, at least from my point of view. Maybe you can convince her to include a DVD in every copy of the paper journal!

  13. The customary way to flog a bad paper is to pawn it off on a worse journal.
    There are, after all , some 50,000+ deservedly obscure scholarly periodicals in the world. I wish I were kidding, but this university alone has some 30,000 on its library shelves.
    Failing this , you can pad the paper with copious irrelevance, amplify its jargon level and add some caveats to the Conclusions. If reformatted as a Review Article. and fired off to ten or more randomly selected B, C, and D- list journals with titles beginning in Reviews Of , or Progress In , it will likely see print within a year.
    If, as is often the case, the overworked editor’s boredom threshold stops their reading on page one, and their reviewers are mostly ambitious associate professors whose first language is Mandarin, you can traduce thermodynamics to your heart’s content on pages 5 though 15 , serene in the knowledge that, just as no one will read your obscurely published effusion without provocation, neither will your colleagues seek out the outraged rebuttals the poor editors are obliged to publish months or years later.
    With such a rich informational ecology waiting to be colonized, it’s a wonder mythogogues bother to blog.

  14. There is still the unresolved question about how much material:
    1: our original tables
    2: all the gigabytes of station data that ref#2 wanted

    3 GB, Ouch. If you wanted to be mean, you could have emailed him 10Meg zipped chuncks.

  15. “Interesting to see confirmation that Leif has to take it as well as dish it out :)”
    I think it is confirmation that Leif made it clear he would not back down.
    At least he didn’t have to go through this.

  16. How happy am I to see this report from you Dr Svalgaard (not because I understand it) but because there have been 2 events in the past week which I seek your understanding. Today there was a geomagnetic storm with NO SOLAR WIND and the proton flux was nil. How is this possible? Where the heck was the storm coming from ~ the interstellar fluff/ribbon cloud or was it coming from the core of the hollow Earth (admit it Dr Svalgaard, the Earth IS hollow).
    The second thing is a few days ago, USGS was showing all the seismographs in USA getting hit at the same time ~ it was confirmed that this was a “plasma wave” ~ but again, how is this possible?
    All this happening while the Sun is having a lengthy snooze? (Aside from its ongoing filament blobs bursting off like nobody’s business.)
    Is all this weird behaviour owing to the heliosphere changing its character somehow?
    Thank you,
    Skylurker Suranda

  17. I do agree on one point with Reviewer #2 and that the data no matter the size or complexity should be freely available for reproduction.

  18. And I thought convincing my mother to let me borrow the car was difficult!
    She even used many of the same circular arguments! I had nowhere near the patience of the Authors though, and often was forced to walk my dates home. 🙁
    Although I am pleased the CRU fiasco has spooked everyone.
    I’ll have to traipse over to your site for a boo. Thanks Dr S.

  19. I think we should start to use the guillotine again. For liberty and science bring forth the guillotine!
    You see the hole in that oversized cleaver contraption over there? Right, that’s where your head goes if you’re math is wrong.

  20. Congratulations Leif!
    I marvel at how polite you were when the #2 reviewer displayed such intelligent diversion and obstructive defense to his own beliefs. Very reminiscent of the combined mindset I have seen employed at Real Climate and Desmog. And what bitterness and irritation from that “biased” reviewer misdirected in a personal way towards you and your fellow scientists.
    We are indeed fortunate that [Post CRU email disclosures], at least one Editor has the ability to recognize scientific bias and refer the paper for adjudication and in my view, with the correct result.
    The sad thing is of course, how many valid scientific papers advancing new and exciting facts, never saw the light of publication due to reviewer bias ? and even sadder, how many keen and questioning scientists were rejected and crushed by the comfortable inner circle of reviewers revealed by those emails.
    Good will and willingness to change, especially on storage and sharing of data and electronic programs to compare results, will hopefully usher in a “new era” for climate science.
    Leif you are a gentleman of science – thanks for posting and I hope the #2 reviewer takes a long hard look at where “they” stand in this new open era of scientific discovery.

  21. One further question if I may.
    You (Dr Svalgaard) state;
    “You step in the stream,
    but the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.”
    Where then is it? Have you been hiding it? I refuse to accept anything you say until you not only produce this “missing” page, but provide the names and addresses of everyone in the continental US. Oh, and the names of their dogs too. (No cats allowed! I hate cats)
    😉

  22. I wonder if a young Swiss patent office assistant examiner could get published today. I wonder, too, if the web doesn’t offer a better way to do all this. I guess time will tell. For some strange reason the print media world seems very dated and much too slow.
    Thank you for your always invaluable insights. Well done Dr. Svalgaard! Well done indeed!
    PS: For all his faults, Reviewer No.2 gave us all a better education than Reviewer No.1.

  23. One commenter wrote: “The customary way to flog a bad paper is to pawn it off on a worse journal.” At the risk of offending the writer, the actual expression has nothing to do with pawn shops, but is “to palm off”. It comes from cheating at card games, like poker. I see this expression misused all the time, so am not naming the writer.
    Note to OT police: it’s the weekend and we should have some extra freedom…..
    IanM

  24. Suranda says:
    May 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    You too eh?
    How can a supposedly solid iron core through an iron shell create an electro-magnetic field when iron has no energy of it’s own. Where did this evidence of iron come from when you cannot sample the core. (Iron going through iron to show a new molecularly dense iron molecule when it is suppose to be pulled down by gravity)
    No sense at all. This iron took time to go to the center to make the core would mean we had no magnetic field…hense no gravity only centrifugal force.

  25. Dr. Svalgaard thanks for this peek into the peer review process.

    The different treatment leaves questions of motivation. [reviewer #2]
    No comment. [Leif”s response]

    Leif”s “no comment” comment is pregnant with meaning.

    The present title is untruthful and megalomanic, leaving out any doubt on the correctness of the estimated
    HMF. [reviewer #2]

    Wow! reviewer #2 reads just a little bit more into the title than the average reader would.

  26. I refer again to climate research where Royal Society forced certain unwilling authors to publish their original data within the journal’s electronic supplement subsequent to questions related to the results published in their journal. The same responsibility principle should be adopted by AGU journals as well.

    I repeat: Independent storage of and access to the original data is mandatory. Unless other scientists have free access to full data set, the results have very little scientific value.

    I think I get the picture now. Is someone just a little pissed off at having been forced to reveal their own data, perhaps?

    it is not honest to include …

    The present title is untruthful and megalomanic

    And a little bit of sniping goes a long way (towards proving a lack of professionalism).

  27. I found that review history very interesting, thanks for posting it here Leif.
    And congrats on having your paper published.

  28. OT
    A question for a moderator testing WordPress blockquote.

    Does WordPress now put everything that is in blockquotes in Italics as well?

    …and I’ll get my answer in a moment.
    [Usually. No one knows for sure how WordPress operates? ~dbs]

  29. rbateman @ May 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm
    Would you mind elaborating? What am I looking for in the images you posted?
    Cheers!

  30. F. Ross: May 29, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    This is in blockquote. Here I turned italics on. And off again here. So now we’re back to the blockquote, which ends here.

    .
    As they say, ‘go figure’.
    /dr.bill

  31. While working on my master’s degree I would assist one of the professors in reviewing papers. He had MS and would needed help in both the physical effort and data analysis. I had never seen such vitriol in a review. While I my field is Electrical and Computer Engineering, and different in nature from this study, it was still about how do you measure, what did you measure, the method of analysis, and conclusion. If these steps were followed and showed to be both viable and effective, the review was to improve the paper and not to argue the points. Certainly it wasn’t about personal biases, or personal attacks.
    Lief has far more patience than I. Although you could tell that towards the end he was showing his frustration. Had this continued, reviewer #2 would still be asking for dental records, height and weight charts of Leif’s children, and the record of exact second that Leif was brought into this world as well as location and orientation of the birth canal.
    Keep up the good work Leif.

  32. So far I’ve never taken an interest in publishing. Twice there was a need (income related) to publish. My experience:
    Case 1: ENDLESS ridiculous squabbling from an editor about a 4 PAGE publication.
    Case 2: 100+ page article with tons of figures & references accepted without the requirement to change so much as a word or image. Clean shot.
    The irony:
    Case 2 involved highly controversial material, whereas Case 1 was in no way controversial.
    The political intrigue behind the apparent irony:
    In case 1 it became clear that I was involved in a “package deal” negotiation. I kept my mouth shut about “something” (else). A nice cheque was then cut and suddenly all editorial issues “mysteriously” disappeared and the original manuscript was published without a word changed (despite all the original fuss).
    In hindsight, case 1 was a valuable (sociological) learning experience. (Obviously my mouth remained shut through case 2!)
    Politics is good fun.

  33. In my pre-retirement days as a biologist (with an attendant interest in environmental matters), I often had occasion to wonder at the arcane twists of peer review. One reviewer would criticise the MS in one way and another would criticise it in exactly the opposite way. Keeping the editor happy under such circumstances could be almost as hard as the actual science. It was not uncommon for referees to praise the part of the paper you were privately a bit worried about, and to criticise the part which one had fondly thought was the most clear-cut thing in the MS. Reviewers would criticise me for saying what I had clearly rejected and for not saying what I had defended at length. So I am a little underwhelmed when peer review is trotted out as if it were decisive in greenhouse controversies. Still, as Churchill said of democracy, it is the worst possible system except for anything else you can think of. Likewise with peer review – it’s the best anyone has come up with. And blogs? Ultimately one must accept that peer reviewed publication would be preferable. Yet a significant blog contribution may be intensely scrutinised by numerous readers. That should count for something. Perhaps such a contribution should be viewed in the way that theologians view some candidates for the biblical canon – the deuterocanonical books: denied full status but not denied all status.

  34. F. Ross says:
    May 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm
    “The present title is untruthful and megalomanic, leaving out any doubt on the correctness of the estimated HMF.” [reviewer #2]
    Wow! reviewer #2 reads just a little bit more into the title than the average reader would.

    That just tends to highligh their use of a ‘private’ language. If you read enough of their papers or reviews from their perspective you will quickly catch onto the hidden meanings whenever such words are brouhgt into play. It’s a joke, not on any normal person, but on themselves! They don’t think us normal humans have the capability to decipher them, you know, reading the hidden meaning. (They are wrong, again!) The dictionary on their language is rather protected currently, enough said, wouldn’t want to alter a specimen while measurements are in progress. 😉
    Leif, congrats on your paper.

  35. If anyone is further interested in the peer review process check out the E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology at http://www.ejssm.org/ojs/index.php/ejssm/index. This is one of my areas of research. This journal does the reviews on-line for all to see. Go to the Archives section and check through some of the submissions and their reviews. Most reviewer are quite frank but the end result is a usually a better product (in our field at least).


  36. I regret to report that my limited personal experience as both a peer review officer and somebody defending a manuscript submitted to peer review has been bereft of funny stories or enraging indignities. The people with whom I’ve engaged as reviewers were smart, knowledgeable individuals who were genuinely interested in seeing that the work hit print to best possible effect, and the results of addressing their comments (and suggestions) was always a better finished product than it would otherwise have been.
    Even collaborative authorship is an uncertain job. Outside the cadre of genuine scriveners named as authors on any paper – and in my experience there are seldom more than a couple or three who crank out the bulk of any manuscript – there’s concern about whether or not focus has been too shortsighted, that things have been missed, and that the “name” guys responsible for getting the funding and nominally in supervision of your study might not simply be playing Pointy-Haired Boss and adding zero real value to the work you’re trying to pull into publishable form.
    If you’re lucky (and I think I’ve had a helluva lot of luck), the people assigned to review your stuff will climb into your manuscript with the same intention you have when you’re given somebody else’s pages to comb through, and the objective will always be the publication of something worth putting into the literature for colleagues to rely upon.
    All kidding, kvetching, and efforts at snarking aside, isn’t that what academic publishing is really for?
    Or is the perspective of clinical medicine people that radically different from the attitudes prevailing in the pure sciences?

  37. You see the hole in that oversized cleaver contraption over there? Right, that’s where your head goes if you’re math is wrong.

    Or your grammar.

  38. Rich Matarese says:
    What you are describing is what the peer review system should be in all disciplines. Sure there will be disagreements and some vehemence but mainly the end result should be a clearer presentation and a good check on obvious errors.
    This process has failed in the climate related publications, self evidently, otherwise there would not be all that published stuff about polar bears that defies simple logic and general encyclopedic knowledge.
    Climategate has also shown that in a narrow field, the peer review process can be high jacked by a clique and used to their own advantage, both in grants and in glory.
    Before the Moloch of grant money gets to the general peer review process in all disciplines a new format of reviewing should be vigorously pursued. The internet offers the means.
    I think also that anonymity of reviewers should be fine before the publication of the paper, but should be revealed on request after , so a clique cannot form.

  39. Quite usual. The guy has no own team (=mafia). He is doomed.
    The are three options.
    1. He joins the right team and starts to support AGW.
    2. He builds up his own team (impossible for a non-professor)
    3. He considers science as a hobby and earns his money in a different way (running a pizzeria?). He can always publish his manuscripts in arxiv.org.


  40. anna v writes of how:
    Climategate has also shown that in a narrow field, the peer review process can be highjacked by a clique and used to their own advantage, both in grants and in glory.
    Truth. By 19 November 2009 I recall having had my blood thoroughly up over the CRU correspondents’ flagrant and purposeful perversion of peer review. Sure, there was the political pillage of “cap-and-trade” to enrage me, but I most fervently wanted warm viscera spilled across the linoleum as the proper treatment for Prof. Jones and his coterie because of what they’d done to peer review.
    In medicine, such a concerted effort to turn the editorial process in a whole discipline’s professional publications to a suggestio falsi, suppressio veri objective is clearly understood to be an indirect but definite threat to patients’ lives and health. The fact that it is repeatedly attempted (and has, to limited extents, been accomplished from time to time) tends to make us not-quite-scientists in the sawbones racket extremely sensitive about it.
    We know how it’s done. We get it done to us all the time. We even understand how such violations of professional standards of ethical conduct can have dire repercussions in terms of the allocation of resources to further inquiries. Good people waste their time and their effort exploring avenues of research signposted by bogus publications, and effective work that might otherwise have been undertaken gets deferred.
    And this means that patients who otherwise might have had the benefit of that effective work must suffer, and in many cases they die. Nothing gets the attention more sharply than that, believe me.
    At the close of her comment, anna v had suggested:
    …that anonymity of reviewers should be fine before the publication of the paper, but should be revealed on request after , so a clique cannot form.”
    I would go further. Upon publication, the officers responsible for peer review should be afforded open editorial credit for their work on the article. If their comments were received and addressed
    by the authors of the manuscript, they had constructive input, and the value of that input must be acknowledged.
    In more than one instance, I have seen the comments of peer reviewers contribute substantively to the quality of the work being submitted for publication. For example, I’ve whacked in whole sections of expatiation at such urgings, and I immediately understood that such expansions did much to help put the central information of the study into better context than I had shortsightedly assumed would be adequate. The reviewers who have offered such suggestions warranted, in my opinion, credit as participating authors. It’s something my co-authors should certainly have done, damnit.
    Forget the “on request after.” Acknowledge the reviewers’ contributions. They sure as hell don’t get any other compensation for the hard and valuable work they do.

  41. Content goes way above my head (my field is economics) but thank you Mr. Svalgaard for your willingness and effort to provide transparency on the review process within your field. Was an interesting read.
    Aside from manners I agree with the general points of reviewer 2 on data availability which in essence you do as well. That part is actually very interesting and with your publication of the review process you do your small part in possibly spreading this point of view.
    Congrats on the publishing.

  42. I applaud Leif for letting us see the ‘inside’ of his experience.
    @Rich Matarese
    Excellent suggestion about acknowleging reviewers and their input, although perhaps with some reservations. Undoubtedly some reviewers do contribute as much if not more than some co-authors, but how to decide that and if it deserves elevation to co-author status? How to measure it? Also who would decide it? Some authors would be happy, some very unhappy about it. I can imagine two very positive scenarios: eminent professor reviews unknown group’s paper and addition of Prof as author elevates status of unknown group; unknown newbie reviews and makes good contributions to eminent group’s paper and addition as author is very good on their CV. OTOH lots of potential for disgruntlement on both sides.
    Naming the reviewers routinely after publication (at least) and making the reviews available would be positive. On the other hand journals find it hard to get reviewers and this might reduce the pool (for example those who fear being seen to do a poor job – due to lack of time, a common excuse). As a post-doc in a prominent lab many years ago I became only too familiar with the backbiting and the cliques. I’ve been out of peer review as an author for at least 15 years but as a reviewer I am increasingly in demand due to broad and crossover expertise. The cliques are still there and I’ve been a third reviewer on several occasions; not all reviewers are serving the science – many seem to think they have to be negative and critical because they can and yes a lot of time is wasted on trivial points that should not matter.

  43. MaxL says:
    May 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm
    If anyone is further interested in the peer review process check out the E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology at http://www.ejssm.org/ojs/index.php/ejssm/index. This is one of my areas of research. This journal does the reviews on-line for all to see. Go to the Archives section and check through some of the submissions and their reviews. Most reviewer are quite frank but the end result is a usually a better product (in our field at least).
    _____________________________________________________________________
    I think the key to your journal is “This journal does the reviews on-line for all to see.” I would hope this keeps the idiotic and nasty comments to a minimum, if for no other reason that it reflects poorly on the journal and therefore the journal will not use that reviewer again.

  44. Rich Matarese etc.
    The problem is to do with junk science. leif has his proponents of the iron sun to deal with (and many others). Should junk science be published in respectiable journals? They must have standards to keep. Perhaps they need a special junk science issue?
    Should a article suggesting that homeopath can cure amputation be published in a professional journal?
    http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/homeopathy.htm
    I think not! If the science is so outrageous that no respectable scientist believes it it is necessary to consign it to lesser journals. BUT the author after many rejections may think he is being picked on.
    Surly the scientists at the top of their field should have a greater say than those on the fringes?
    \harry

  45. The cartoon captures it well! I’ve done a tiny bit of peer reviewing for a modest journal in my field. The exercise seems to have been largely symbolic as none of my incisive [IMHO 😉 ] comments had the slightest impact on the finished product. Like many other readers, the paper is utterly over my head. However, notwithstanding the manifest hostility of the second reviewer, it was refreshing to see a serious effort on all sides to produce a finished product with resort to an independent third reviewer to break the deadlock.

  46. I just read one of the E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology articles and the online peer review. That was refreshing and much needed after Steve McIntyre’s cogent analysis of climategate at the 4th ICCC brought me to tears. Perhaps there is hope for those of us who truly love of science.
    Imagine what a difference a few online reviewer comments to the IPCC about what the implications of the model diagnostic issues were for the model attribution and projection might have meant. None of the reported projections include any attempt to estimate the errors.

  47. .
    Reviwer #2 wrote
    ” We have, quite recently with CRU,
    sadly verified what happens to science if original data is not open for all
    scientists. ”
    It is unfortunate that it took Climategate to get the mainstream scientific community
    to recognize that there was something fundamentally wrong with the climate science process.I wonder how well Leif’s papers would have faired if the topic of the paper went against the then prevailing AGW science and it was reviewd by the CRU/IPCC group of reviewers .

  48. Harry Lu says, “Surly the scientists at the top of their field should have a greater say than those on the fringes?”
    If that were the case, Einstein’s theory would have never been published, much less allowed to exist.

  49. Don’t know if this is OT or not, but is there an established relationship between the earth’s magnetosphere intensity and extent and the same parameters for the solar magnetosphere? I have heard the theory that the ‘volcanoes’ on the Jovian/ Saturnian moons are due to induced energies in their core from gravitic and/or magnetic interaction with the planets they circle… does anyone have a gauge of how our magnetosphere is influenced (if at all) by the Sun?
    Seems like this might be a factor in amplitude for Svensmarkian atmospheric effects. Any thoughts?

  50. Pamela Gray says:
    May 30, 2010 at 7:47 am
    “Harry Lu says, “Surly the scientists at the top of their field should have a greater say than those on the fringes?”
    If that were the case, Einstein’s theory would have never been published, much less allowed to exist.”
    To see the problems faced in publishing by a well established solar physicist in his field is discouraging for a young scientist or an older one who may have a contribution to make. This plus the double jeopardy of theft and plagiarism which appears to be a hazzard for the young scientist. How can one safeguard against the latter?

  51. Peer review is done by “conventional scientists who have thouroughy taught biases. If reviewers reserved their reviews to fundamentals (but history shows that even widely accepted “fundamentals” can be wrong, think phlogiston theory of heat, for instance) peer review would be much improved.
    As it is now, in most cases, it seems to me no more than “protecting the faith”, whatever the faith is of the peer reviewer.

  52. Pamela Gray says:
    May 30, 2010 at 7:47 am
    Harry Lu says, “Surly the scientists at the top of their field should have a greater say than those on the fringes?”
    If that were the case, Einstein’s theory would have never been published, much less allowed to exist.
    He did not do too badly
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_publications_by_Albert_Einstein
    special theory 1905 published 1906.
    Are you suggesting that in 1905 there was no peer review of any sort? and no censure of scientist ?
    Can you show me something that shows this to be the case, please?
    There are many crackpots with strange ideas, Homeopathy, Iron Sun, free energy (eg. (www).steorn.com/), Magnets on fuel lines to improve efficiency etc.
    Would it be wise to let these loose on the learned journals? I do not think so. They would fill with crackpots articles.
    So how can you fairly filter these people?
    \harry

  53. Harry Lu says:
    There are many crackpots with strange ideas, Homeopathy, Iron Sun, free energy (eg. (www).steorn.com/), Magnets on fuel lines to improve efficiency etc.
    Would it be wise to let these loose on the learned journals? I do not think so. They would fill with crackpots articles. So how can you fairly filter these people?

    How about an April foolishness issue, printed on greenish paper, devoted to fringe articles? If one in ten is on-target, it’s a net gain. Plus it’ll loosen everyone else up to see such jesters saying such things and still surviving.

  54. I hope “peer reviewed” is not supposed to mean reviewed by peers, equals in the sense by people who have equal opinions, bias or agenda. If only to serve as way to improve quality of the paper, then criticism by someone with a strong bias should be useful, perhaps more useful. The reviewers need not agree with everything for acceptance.

  55. Leif, I’m not sure that there anything to complain about. Your manuscript covered a controversial subject, you benefited from receiving substantive reviews, one of these reviews was especially critical (which allowed you to revise your manuscript in anticipation of possible published replies), and, of course, your manuscript was accepted by the journal. All of this seems pretty normal and, indeed, healthy.
    Jeff

  56. Jeffrey Love says:
    May 31, 2010 at 8:24 am
    Leif, I’m not sure that there anything to complain about. […] of course, your manuscript was accepted by the journal. All of this seems pretty normal and, indeed, healthy.
    I don’t think I ‘complained’ [at least that was not my intention]. Peer review is healthy and generally leads to improvements and clarifications [after all the author is the person least suited for critiquing his paper]. There was also some ‘whining’, to wit the need for a three reviewer. Whining is also normal.

  57. Jeffrey Love says:
    May 31, 2010 at 8:24 am
    > Leif, I’m not sure that there anything to complain about.
    I read his saga more as documenting the review experience more than complaining about the experience. Given the comments about peer review before and after Climategate, it’s certainly something worth documenting. Given that Leif documents just about everything under the Sun (heh, heh) at his web site, this is almost an expected and worthwhile addition.
    The “general whining” in Leif’s introduction above refers more to reviewer #2 than Leif. I’m sure reviewer #2 could find something to complain about.

  58. It seems to me that most of commenters here missed the subtle of Leif”s story; he actually wanted to say (at least, judging by his comments in the linked previous thread) – look climate skeptics, all your complaining and about the climate alarmists misusing the peer review process to stifle and censor the debate are bunk, because I also, with my pro AGW views experienced a similar harassment from the reviewers. So stop complaining about Jones, Mann and co trying to oust the incorrigible editors of some journals and “going to town” with reviews, “changing the meaning of the peer review” in order to “keep Michaels and McKitrick out” of IPCC report, and similar charming stuff.
    Nothing to see there, a usual practice, people of blood and flesh, making mistakes, reacting emotionally and defensively, being unjust etc. Nothing special. Move on…

  59. It seems to me that most of commenters here missed the subtle twist in the Leif”s story; he actually wanted to say (at least, judging by his comments in the linked previous thread) – look climate skeptics, all your complaining and about the climate alarmists misusing the peer review process to stifle and censor the debate are bunk, because I also, with my pro AGW views experienced a similar harassment from the reviewers. So stop complaining about Jones, Mann and co trying to oust the incorrigible editors of some journals and “going to town” with reviews, “changing the meaning of the peer review” in order to “keep Michaels and McKitrick out” of IPCC report, and similar charming stuff.
    Nothing to see there, a usual practice, people of blood and flesh, making mistakes, reacting emotionally and defensively, being unjust etc. Nothing special. Move on…

  60. Physics Review once submitted a paper by Einstein to peer review. His response was:

    We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you our manuscript for publication and had not authorized you to show it to specialists before it is printed. I see no reason to address the – in any case erroneous – comments of your anonymous expert. On the basis of this incident I prefer to publish the paper elsewhere.

    The German journals in which he was used to publishing had very little peer review.

  61. Ivan says:
    May 31, 2010 at 12:26 pm
    It seems to me that most of commenters here missed the subtle twist in the Leif”s story;
    I wanted to show how the peer-review process works [on a controversial paper]. It did work this time The reviews were useful [although one was a bit over the top]. My view is that every paper should have its ‘review history’ available in the electronic version of the Journal. Then the process is transparent.

  62. GaryC says:
    May 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm
    Physics Review once submitted a paper by Einstein to peer review. […] I see no reason to address the – in any case erroneous – comments of your anonymous expert.
    As it turned out, the paper was flawed and should not have been published.


  63. Verity Jones writes that: “Undoubtedly some reviewers do contribute as much if not more than some co-authors, but how to decide that and if it deserves elevation to co-author status? How to measure it? Also who would decide it? Some authors would be happy, some very unhappy about it.”
    I would propose that the decision to accord co-author status should be made by the author(s) responding to the reviewers’ comments. Because these reviewers – during the process of review – retain anonymity, it is not possible for the author(s) of the manuscript to know anything more than the quality of the input.
    That would take care of Verity Jones‘ concern about what might happen when an “…eminent professor reviews unknown group’s paper and addition of Prof as author elevates status of unknown group; unknown newbie reviews and makes good contributions to eminent group’s paper and addition as author is very good on their CV.” The paper’s author(s) do not know who a reviewer might be, and thus the reviewer’s contribution stands or falls on its own.
    I would trust to the moral and intellectual integrity of the author(s) defending their paper in the review process. If in their opinion there is substantive contribution to the character of their finished product provided by a particular reviewer, that “Reviewer X” should be offered the honor of joining the list of co-authors.
    “Reviewer X” has the right, of course, to decline that honor. I suspect that most reviewers would do so, if only because most of us feel damned uncomfortable about taking credit for what (as a review officer myself) I’ve kinda considered the academic equivalent of kibitzing.
    Verity Jones goes on to suggest that “Naming the reviewers routinely after publication (at least) and making the reviews available would be positive.
    I respectfully reject this course of action. First, a review officer’s input upon a manuscript in process might not be substantive in any significant way. The editor with “drop dead” responsibility for the publication of the work may not judge that reviewer’s comments worthy of consideration (reviewers are not infallible). The corresponding author defending the paper may satisfactorily refute the reviewer’s contentions without having to revise the manuscript. The reviewer might pick up an error in the paper that would be embarrassingly detrimental to the presentation of the research but which in truth amounts to nothing more than a sophisticated proofing glitch – and that sure as hell doesn’t rise to the level at which a conscientious professional would hold that he’s done anything worth real credit.
    Second, “<i.making the reviews available” would oblige editors, reviewers, and authors to put too damned much time and effort into polishing these exchanges because they must be conscious that their comments will be “on your permanent record” elements. The inhibitory effect of such an expectation must inevitably be bloody awful, making the review and response process less effective. Moreover, I cannot think of a more noxious way to make life impossible for journal editors, who (as Verity Jones had observed) have more than enough difficulty recruiting and maintaining cadres of qualified peer review officers.
    I would suggest instead that the masthead of each edition of an academic periodical might credit specific reviewers with mention as associate editors at the discretion of the editor-in-chief, according to his/her contribution to the work in that edition.
    This would give the journal’s editor a “carrot” with which to acknowledge particularly effective and conscientious work contributed by review officers in specific instances. Right now, what a lot of journals do is list a boatload of people many of whom put in so little time or effort that it sometimes takes months or years before anyone at the periodical realizes that they’re retired, dead, or eloped to Guatemala and dropped off the ‘Net.
    Be nice if credit were given only where credit is due.

  64. Having just gotten my first paper past a contentious peer review, I can attest that the comments by reviewer #2 are quite mild compared to what some anonymous physicist wrote about me. My editor also sent the paper to a 3rd party, but he kept sending it back to the one negative reviewer as well. The 3rd party voted in favor of publication and voila. I sent the paper in around August 2009 and it was accepted May 2010.


  65. My congratulations to carlbrannen for having gotten his “first paper past a contentious peer review.
    As in the literal loss of one’s virginity, it’s always the first time that seems the messiest, most stressful, and most detrimental to one’s sense of dignity and self-worth.
    Well, it does if you’re a Catholic. But anyway….
    I’d like to suggest that it might be helpful if we were to adopt a sort of giri-and-gimu” custom in which credit as a published author literally obliges an individual to serve the journal in question as a peer review officer in his/her discipline henceforth.
    This would not exclude from editorial consideration the consultation of professional peers without such proximal credit, of course, but it should fatten up the options available to these editors.
    “We published your paper on the effects of paroxysmal defenestration on the mating behavior of Norwegian rats,” goes the e-mail message, “and now you gotta do peer review on the attached manuscript regarding the analyses of sperm counts among adolescent males addicted to bungee-jumping. Get your comments back to us by X date or sooner, please.”
    What could be more equitable?

  66. I have had two papers through the peer review process. My first paper was perfunctorily rejected the first time, then, after a rewrite and submission to a different journal, perfunctorily accepted. My second paper was accepted without change. I have no complaints.

  67. Rich Matarese says:
    May 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm
    I agree with your futher comments. I obviously didn’t “put too damned much time and effort into polishing” my thought processes before commenting!

  68. “”” CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    May 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm
    ….ahhh, yes, the perils of “publish or perish!”
    Since my BS tolerance level is very low, I rarely publish in peer-reviewed journals and have no aspirations for faculty tenure.
    The university tenure system is badly broken anyway, and probably contributes to some of the “scientific consensus” aspects of AGW, since young associate professors have to play the game and tailor their research & publications towards the mainstream if they want full professorship appointments.
    This momentum is so powerful, I really doubt if we’ll find true scientific dissent in the literature regarding warming. Dr. Lindzen does a great job swimming against the tide, but he’s really an exception. “””
    Dr. P.H.
    The system will stay broke too, if those of us on the outside looking in, do nothing but bash the apparent miscreants, like the Hansens, Joneses, and Manns for what we may perceive (rightly or wrongly I suppose) to be the errors of their ways.
    We also need to be supportive of those like Professor Lindzen who dare to stick their head out of the fox hole at the risk of getting it shot off.
    If we are able to follow and hopefully understand their scholarly outputs; it behoves us to let it be known that we are persuaded by their arguments.
    There’s not much point in telling the MSM what we believe; for we have no standing at all with them; compared to giants like AlGore.
    But they can’t ignore the Lindzens and the Fred Singers, and Tim Balls; who have credibility even among the opposition; so if we agree with stuff they put out; we need to let the MSM know that these arguments are persuasive; and they (the MSM) ignore them at the peril oftheir insignificance as news sources.
    I haven’t read Leif’s missive yet; but I’m looking forward to doing that. We can’t be letting old sol out of his climate job, and putting all the load on H2O.
    I got out of Academia a half century ago; for pretty much the same reasons you cite.

  69. “”” Joe Lalonde says:
    May 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm
    Suranda says:
    May 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    You too eh?
    How can a supposedly solid iron core through an iron shell create an electro-magnetic field when iron has no energy of it’s own. Where did this evidence of iron come from when you cannot sample the core. (Iron going through iron to show a new molecularly dense iron molecule when it is suppose to be pulled down by gravity)
    No sense at all. This iron took time to go to the center to make the core would mean we had no magnetic field…hense no gravity only centrifugal force. “””
    I’m not sure who said what here; or whether this is Physics or perhaps a recipe for genetically modified shoes.
    I’m given to understand that Ferromagnetics is a bit over my head, when you get down to the nitty gritty; I have to stop at the stick in the sand level.
    But it seems to me, that there is this thing called the Curie Temperature; and that Ferromagnetism does not exist above that Temperature in that particular material.
    And by all accounts, the Temperature of at least the core of planet earth; which is believed to be mostly Iron; is way the heck above the Curie Temperature of Iron; so don’t go blaming any iron core for some Ferromagnetic effect on earth. But Iron at least is a reasonable electrical conductor, and some part of the core is supposed to be liquid, which therefore is capable of movement. To the extent that any of that iron is thermally ionised; and at that Temperature, who wouldn’t be; then a rotating core can make a magnetic field; even sans Ferromagnetism.
    I have no idea what the status might be for either diamagnetism, or paramagnetism, in iron above the Curie Temperature; but I doubt that you need either of those to explain an earth magnetic field. Same goes for the sun I assume; no need for some mythical iron cored sun to get a solar magnetic field. I dunno how many times Dr Svalgaard has told us all that.
    And one failing of modern theories of everything, si the failure to link Gravity, with any oif the other forces of nature; including electromagnetism; so how the hell can a magnetic field be responsible for gravity; about the only thing they have in common is they both have infinite range.

  70. Dear Dr Svalgaard,
    I have read your “review story” like a detective novel. Thank you! 🙂
    As I see, you had bad luck to meet a person, who never can say “stop discussion” and holds by an opinion: “best defence is offence”. It was mainly not scientific discussion, but fight of mindsets.
    Dear Suranda,
    > “Today there was a geomagnetic storm with NO SOLAR WIND and the proton flux was nil. How is this possible?”
    You are not quite right when you say there was NO SOLAR WIND. There was a sharp increase of solar wind density on 28 May and than very strong southward IMF on 29 May. I have collected a lot of such events and concluded that well-known combination “high solar wind velocity + strong negative IMF Bz-component” successfully works for strong geomagnetic storms, but weak and mild storms do not obey this rule. An additional rule is: “sharp solar wind density increase + consequent negative IMF Bz = weak or moderate geomagnetic storm” (see http://ics8.ca/proc_files/khabarova.pdf and http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0805/0805.0547.pdf ).

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