On being a scientist – a manual

Bruce Foutch writes about this book in Tips and Notes to WUWT, Phil Jones might benefit from a gift copy.

Available at Amazon - click for details

ON BEING A SCIENTIST

A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH 

THIRD EDITION

This book is now available from The National Academies Press. Some very interesting guidelines for scientists in this book.

from page 9:

“Because of the critical importance of methods, scientific papers must include a description of the procedures used to produce the data, sufficient to permit reviewers and readers of a scientific paper to evaluate not only the validity of the data but also the reliability of the methods used to derive those data. If this information is not available, other researchers may be less likely to accept the data and the conclusions drawn from them. They also may be unable to reproduce accurately the conditions under which the data were derived.

The best methods will count for little if data are recorded incorrectly or haphazardly. The requirements for data collection differ among disciplines and research groups, but researchers have a fundamental obligation to create and maintain an accurate, accessible, and permanent record of what they have done in sufficient detail for others to check and replicate their work. …”

I thought it telling their choice of using the phrase “…sufficient to permit reviewers AND readers…” and “If this information is not available, other researchers [AND readers] may be less likely to accept the data and the conclusions drawn from them.”

Also thought this significant:

“…researchers have a fundamental obligation to create and maintain an accurate, accessible, and permanent record…”

==============================================================

This could be used as a response to Climategate (on the importance of making code, data, and methods available), note the date of the press release was prior to Climategate, but it is very prescient.

Date: March 27, 2009

Contacts: Sara Frueh, Media Relations Officer

Edgar Acajabon, Media Relations Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Edition of ‘On Being a Scientist’ Offers Early-Career Researchers Guidance on Conducting Research Responsibly, Avoiding Misconduct

WASHINGTON — Cases of clear scientific misconduct have made headlines in recent years, among them the fabrication of data by a team of stem-cell researchers at Seoul National University and the fraudulent manipulation of photos submitted to the Journal of Cell Biology. Though obvious violations of professional standards may be uncommon, less-dramatic ethical questions confront many scientists in the course of a career: How should credit for a discovery be allocated among a team of researchers? How should a scientist respond if he discovers errors — his own or others’ — in a published analysis? And how can a researcher recognize when a conflict of interest could bias the results of a study she hopes to undertake?

These and other questions are explored in the third edition of On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research, new from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. The volume offers researchers — particularly early-career scientists and their mentors — guidance on how to conduct research responsibly, avoid misconduct such as fabrication and plagiarism, and think about how to respond in complex ethical situations.

“This updated edition of ‘On Being a Scientist’ will be an important catalyst of discussions among students and their professors, academic and industrial scientists and engineers, managers, administrators and policymakers alike,” said Carolyn Bertozzi, chair of the committee that wrote the report, professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology, University of California, and director of the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “We hope that this resource will inspire readers to explore the issues in an open forum and influence the conduct of science worldwide in a very positive way.”

The report discusses recent real-world instances of misconduct, as well as hypothetical case studies to help scientists think about principles that should guide decision making. For example, one case study explores the situation of a researcher who discovers a coding error in a program used to model the spread of infections in populations — a model that has informed two of the researchers’ published papers. The error doesn’t change the average time it takes infections to spread, but it does increase the amount of uncertainty in the model’s results. Questions included in the case study explore the obligations the researchers owe their professional colleagues in terms of correcting the published record, and whether there are options beyond publishing a formal correction.

The book’s intent is not to state definite conclusions about what should be done in particular situations, said the authoring committee, but rather to explore the reasons for ethical choices and to foster discussion in orientations, graduate seminars, and informal meetings. “[M]any beginning researchers are not learning enough about the standards of science through research experiences,” noted the presidents of the three academies in the book’s preface.

Among the topics addressed are the responsibilities of advisers and their advisees, appropriate ways to share research results, the treatment of people and animals involved in studies, and mistakes and negligence in research. Also included is an extensive list of books and articles for further reading on responsible conduct in science.

The report was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.

Copies of On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research, Third Edition are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

# # #

You can preview the book online here at NAS or click to image above to get a copy at Amazon in paperback.

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66 thoughts on “On being a scientist – a manual

  1. Wonderful post,
    But the people we deal with day to day don’t care about scientific principles.
    Would Gavin care about the substance of the publication subject to this post? I suspect not. He’s not a scientist. Nor is Gore, he’s a propagandist that uses phrases from scientists. So who do we reach with this report? Hopefully it is scientists that care about their reputations more than their wallets.

  2. The first two paragraphs you quote from page 9 were exactly what I was taught 35 years ago.
    There were no “black boxes” for data analysis then – you had to do it yourself which meant that you understood it, and also had to explain what you’d done.
    It’s now too easy to use software packages without a full understanding of what’s being done to the data …

  3. The problem with those mediocre climate accountants is, that they attained their climate superstar positions not through the scientific process, but just the opposite,
    firstly, because they controlled the data and allowed nobody except their allies to look at it and their “science”, let alone find errors in it,
    secondly, if anybody managed to slip through this barricade, there was/is a second line of discrimination in place through the control of the peer review process and boards of journals,
    and finally they succeded unchallenged, because their message pleased powerful leftist interests and big money with surprisingly similar agendas.

  4. Could be a good present for members of the team, or maybe they could write a review of the book and sign it for students – a book with Michael Mann’s signature might be a curiosity on ebay one day – could we give it as a book prize for the best endorsement quote NOT given by a team member, would have to be mythical of course, as it is not to “their” science standard operating procedures.

  5. I’d sure like to see the NSF follow their own guidance when it comes to climate science – in their own journals especially.

  6. Unless I’m misreading something, the date of the press release is March 2009, but Climategate broke in November 2009, as I recall. We use this book as one of the texts for one of the required courses in our graduate environmental science program at the Univeristy of Guam: EV508 Scientific Competence & Integrity. Climategate is one of our case studies now.
    REPLY: Sorry, terrible writing on my part, I just banged out the sentence way too fast. I’ve rewritten that sentence to make it clear that I meant it can be used as a response to Climategate issues, not that it was a response. – Anthony

  7. March 27, 2009 is months BEFORE Climategate. How could it be a response? Or do you mean the text above the dashed line is the response?
    That aside, the guidelines are good. It’s just too bad they are simply ignored in the heavily government-funded field of climate science. Climate science is an exception.

    REPLY:
    Mea Culpa – bad sentence structure – see response in comment above – Anthony

  8. And this should also be noted by all people in the discuss over GW. Trouble is as has been demostrated by certain people if skeptical people say this should be adhered to it will simply be ignored through association. Which is a shame.

  9. What is happening with the sun is truly amazing probably of historic proportions easily the most significant attributable factor for climate from past records

  10. “ON BEING A SCIENTIST
    A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH”
    Where does that leave Mann, Hansen, Jones et al? and the Warmistas that quote their results ad nauseam?

  11. Admirable though it might be, I find it unbelievable that such a book needs to be written; what is going on in our schools and universities?
    When I was at school experiments conducted during science lessons had to be written up. The general format expected was:
    Introduction: – the background to why the experiment was being conducted
    Aim: – What the experiment was intended to reveal
    Method: – How the experiment was to be conducted to meet the aim; how equipment was to be configured and what measurements were to be taken.
    Analysis: – What methods were to be used to analyse the data
    Results: – All measurements were to be logged
    Analysis Results: – All calculations and graphs were to be presented
    Error: – All sources of error were to be identified along with their impact on the results
    Conclusions: – Report the success (or not) of the experiment with respect only to the original Aim.
    Recommendations: – Usually revolved around how future experiments of a similar nature could be conducted with reduced error.
    This was the process in a bulk standard secondary school (admittedly 50 years ago); and now scientists need a “How to do Science” book. …………. Unbelievable.

  12. Talking to a civil engineering lecturer of mine, he was quite surprised when I asked him if he had his program code reviewed when he submitted a paper. He clearly saw the code as nothing more than a tool and, because he wrote it, it did exactly what he wanted it to do.
    I am a software engineer and I know how easy it is to fall into that trap. All code needs rigorous testing and peer review. Without this as a minimum it cannot be trusted which therefore invalidates any result obtained.

  13. KenB says:
    February 6, 2011 at 1:33 am
    “Could be a good present for members of the team,” … my thoughts entirely. I was just wondering if it were available from Amazon.
    “a book with Michael Mann’s signature might be a curiosity on ebay one day
    I think the bidding will go like this … Michael who?
    Whilst these people might seem important for those in the know at the time, you just have to look at other scares to see that the public don’t remember anyone involved.
    The public remember heros or the really nasty villains … we don’t remember second rate incompetent scientists!
    Millennium bug … name a single person involved!
    Swine flu scare … name a single person involved!
    Piltdown man … name a single person involved!
    Phlogiston, the ether,
    The only scare I remember a name from is our UK salmonella in eggs … and that’s just because Currie slept with the prime minister!

  14. The State of Virginia should enter this book into evidence in their FOI lawsuit against the University of Virginia.

  15. So, basically those of us who learned what science we know a very long time ago are not imagining things. This is how science is done. The NAS itself agrees with our points. We aren’t wrong. Jones et al and Mann et al are doing it wrong.
    Duh.
    And Anthony, it says that those who have sided with you and Steve and Lord Monkton are not crazy, but correct in supporting demands that the data AND methods be fully made available and be fully archived.
    What can I say but, “YEAY!”

  16. My graduate advisor was (I’m sure still is) a very honest researcher. I met other professors who were not. Now when I look back through the years, my advisor is still passionate about research. Some of the dishonest ones became deans and then college presidents. What am I concluding? Those truly interested in the science tend to be honest about the research because they really are trying to uncover scientific understanding. Those that are more interested in their personal career advancement, or agendas beside the basic science, may “cook the data” to keep advancing their career.
    “Cooking the data” really has no advantages if you are truly trying to uncover scientific understanding.

  17. Paul Coombes says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:54 am
    Talking to a civil engineering lecturer of mine, he was quite surprised when I asked him if he had his program code reviewed when he submitted a paper. He clearly saw the code as nothing more than a tool and, because he wrote it, it did exactly what he wanted it to do….”
    In Pharma everything we do is scrutinized by agencies. Everything as to be reviewed, audited, and source documents must be kept for a hundred years. It’s a giant pain to conduct science in this environment. If you run a calculation in Excel someone else has to check it by hand calculation ( unless the software has been validated which can take years). But when it comes to public health and safety the stakes are high.
    Maybe climate research should be conducted under the watchful eye of the FDA? That would definitely wipe out the shenanigans of Mann et al.

  18. Looks interesting – I look forward to leafing through a copy although – as I’m nearer retirement now than embarking on a fresh new career for decades to come – maybe I’ll settle for prodding my local library into getting it for me.
    I hope there’s reference in there to Richard Feynmann – not only was he a wonderful human being and great thinker, but he, too, emphasised the need for an honest scientist to be both transparent to the nth degree, and utterly merciless in criticising his or her own work. And (although there can’t be many WUWT readers who haven’t come across him!) if you haven’t met Feynmann yet, I envy you – you have a spectacularly uplifting, enlightening and enjoyable experience to look forward to.

  19. Surely this publication contains exactly those strictures that, “Post-normal Science”, is designed to avoid?

  20. Jones, Mann et al aren’t scientists by the classic definition of what it means to be a ‘scientist’ or to think ‘scientifically’. This being the case (and if you agree with me), then someone who really does understand science should write a public indictment of the hokey team and show why they are not really scientists.

  21. This book would not go amiss in the library of the Royal Society, whose president seems to have forgotten the first principles of the scientific method and ethical conduct. If Sir Paul Nurse could steel himself away from having to work at his laboratory bench in order to read the book, he might get a few ideas on a possible theme for next year’s Christmas lecture.
    A possible title:
    Why not to call your scientific peers “Deniers”

  22. Responsible conduct may be one thing but career advancement is quite another. Success in a science career, particularly government and academia, is dependent on funding and research grants.
    I’d be curious to see a comparison of how much time a scientist spends these days between labs/field work, writing papers and applying for grants or funding. My bet would be that 40 years ago, lab/field work would be where a scientist spent the bulk of his/her time but today it is more likely grant application.
    On top of that administrative and support staffs have ballooned so each dollar raised has a higher overhead that has to be supported. So you end up in a situation where the quality of a scientist is now quantitatively rated is dollars of research grants raised. (If you don’t think this is true, the panel that cleared Michael Mann cited the amount of government grant money raised a an indication of his technical credentials.)
    So how does this affect ethics in science? As someone mentioned above, the people with the most scientific curiosity and integrity will probably do science throughout their careers while those who take shortcuts will follow the funding (often into scientific fads) and will jump to administration sometime in mid-career. This happens on both the sides of the funding relationship for funding providers and funding seekers. These are the people who are creating the culture and ethical standards that really define how things work.

  23. “The scientific research enterprise, like other human activities, is built on a foundation of trust. Scientists trust that the results reported by others are valid. Society trusts that the results of research reflect an honest attempt by scientists to describe the world accurately and without bias. The level of trust that has characterized science and its relationship with society has contributed to a period of unparalleled scientific productivity. But this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct.”
    cemece.trakya.edu.tr/images/OnBeingAScientist.pdf
    Oops.

  24. The internet is a wonderful thing:
    Taken from a response on RealClimate (oxymoron anyone) to an article attacking Prof. Larry Bell.
    “Mainstream science has apparently got to be perfect before it’s worth listening to, while ignoramuses like Bell only need to 1/11 points right before they are worthy of respect. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. – gavin”
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/forbes-rich-list-of-nonsense/#more-5984
    Now I only teach Science at University so forgive me but isn’t that the whole point? Isn’t it what Einstein meant when he said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
    Aren’t Hansen et al just saying that the scientific method for us stops and is no longer iterative because we say so? Or is this just evidence that they are no longer real scientists but instead have become protagonists or in Gavin’s case just a plain bigot. But then again, as Supreme Priests of their AGW cult I guess they get to choose who are and are not RealClimate scientists (in their dreams)…

  25. I have searched in the past for any standards that cover scientific research in government funded research. (http://socratesparadox.com/?p=178) The only thing that I found at the time addressed misconduct. This covered fabrication, falsification and plagarism. Unfortunately, the “awardee institution” is permitted to investigate charges of misconduct, as in the case of the Penn State inquiry. This investigation could then be reviewed by the Inspector General. But here is the real zinger: “A finding of research misconduct requires that”—” There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community…. ”
    (From The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45, Chapter 4, National Science Foundation, in section 698 ) There is more written about accounting of funds, which as a taxpayer I respect, and equal opportunity than there is about scientific standards.
    I am going to get the book from Amazon. It looks interesting.

  26. By the way, the linked pdf above is for the prior edition: “On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition (1995)”.

  27. I was under the impression that peer reviewed papers are the academic equivalent to patents in industry. A patent must include a description of the invention in sufficient detail that one skilled in the art can reproduce the invention. An academic’s published papers should likewise include sufficient detail that one skilled in the science can reproduce the experiment. I’m an engineer not a scientist so I only know the rules about patents. Patent examiners – those public employees who review patent applications – ostensibly insure that all patent applications have sufficient detail for reproduction by those skilled in the art before the applicant is granted a patent. Peer reviewers I thought were supposed to do the same with scientific papers before they can be published.
    The peer review process appears to be substantially less robust than the patent review process. Both have problems but I think the patent process has fewer probably because patent examiners are paid professional reviewers who do nothing else while peer review in academia is performed by reviewers who are not paid for the work and do it only on occasion rather than as a primary task in their line of work. The patent process I’m convinced has something of a good-old boy network going in it where the big corporations employing well known IP law firms enjoy something of a rubber-stamp treatment for their patent applications.
    Is that about right?

  28. “Though “On Being a Scientist” is aimed primarily at graduate students and beginning researchers, its lessons apply to all scientists at all stages of their scientific careers. In particular, senior scientists have a special responsibility in upholding the highest standards for conduct, serving as role models for students and young scientists, designing educational programs, and responding to alleged violations of ethical norms. Senior scientists can themselves gain a new appreciation for the importance of ethical issues by discussing with their students what had previously been largely tacit knowledge. In the process, they help provide the leadership that is essential for high standards of conduct to be maintained.” – Page 134, “On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition (1995)”,
    cemece.trakya.edu.tr/images/OnBeingAScientist.pdf
    Clearly many climate scientists have forgotten their obligations as outlined in this manual.

  29. Lawrie Ayres says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:05 am
    “How come no one in the climate sciences has read it? Or if they have, ignored it’s advice?”
    Mostly because they produce hypotheses which can only be tested over the course of many years or decades. If your hypothesis cannot possibly be falsified for decades it won’t damage your reputation or livelyhood until a time when it no longer matters. In other words there’s no personal accountability, no consequences for being wrong. You can cherry pick weather events and call those events that support your hypothesis “climate change” and discount those events that do not support your hypothesis as “weather”. Climate science is a racket for the practioners and a tool for politicians and ideologues to further their agendas.

  30. There are often comments in WWT pointing out the procedures in ‘climate science’ are little more than a joke and would not be tolerated, except by charlatans, in the real fields of science.
    In climate science, the manipulation of data, concepts and ideas to generate funding and a comfortable lifestyle have now become so entrenched that it is probably not possible to cure the situation.
    I am currently exploring and developing a substantial mineral deposit in south central Spain. Absolutely everything I do must be verifiable and reproducable by independents. Also, the procedures I am required to follow to ensure there is no possibility of fraud are onerous.
    In my business, if we find something important we know competent independents will diligently go through everything we have done searching for errors, fraud and poor methodology. ‘Climate scientists’ know they can safely dodge this bullet, as they all belong to a cosy little club, all looking after each others’ interests.
    My point is that good practices should be the norm for all fields of science. When I read about Mann, Jones and Hansen’s machinations and data manipulation, I fail to understand why they still dare to call themselves scientists, or, more important, why anyone takes them seriously any more.
    At the end of the day, ‘climate science’ is all about politicians needing justification for creating new taxes to fund armies of bureaucrats and bloated welfare systems – something so obvious that we now all take this for granted – all, of course, except for the followers of the AGW cult.

  31. Educational research suffers from the same lack of rigor and adherence to standards. There are so many examples I can’t even begin to list them without admitting to the fact that a long list would be just a drop in the bucket. Head Start would be one of them. That government funded project is a spin off from a research project commonly referred to as “The Perry Project”. The research (laughable) behind the notion of “whole language” instruction as the basis for teaching the mechanics of reading is another area so filled with nonsense it gets my blood boiling. And don’t even get me started on the research behind any and all behavior problems being symptomatic of disease. If this area of human behavior disease goes much further, those of you who are shy will have your own little title for your disease and a special education category in which to bring legal suit against the school system. Which will only lead to what is known as a continuum of symptoms leading us to declare that extroverts are entitled to protection under IDEA. To wit: If the three little pigs and the wolf who would eat them were in school today, they would all carry a handicapping label.

  32. Jones, Mann et al aren’t scientists by the classic definition of what it means to be a ‘scientist’ or to think ‘scientifically’. This being the case (and if you agree with me), then someone who really does understand science should write a public indictment of the hokey team and show why they are not really scientists.

    For me, the only indictment I needed was when Phil Jones responded to a request for his data with words to the effect of “Why should I give it to you when all you’ll do is try to find something wrong with it?”
    No true scientist would ever respond in that manner. That was the lifting of the scales from my eyes regarding the fraud inherent in the global warming/climate change scam, and everything I’ve read up on since then has only reinforced that impression.

  33. Pamela Gray says:
    February 6, 2011 at 6:49 am
    “To wit: If the three little pigs and the wolf who would eat them were in school today, they would all carry a handicapping label.”
    Yes indeed Pamela, I was told by a very progressive aquaintance at work that my views on CAGW were insane and orchestrated by “Big Oil”. I told him it must be true, my thoughts were a mental disease, and I added, now give me some money. He just stared at me.

  34. All I can add is that like most of the posters, this is what I was taught in my Physics/Chemistry/Biology classes in High School, and reinforced during my time at the ETH-Zurich. Part of the development of research skills there, was the recreation of key experiments in the history of Physics – Mossbauer Effect, Electronic Work Function, Josephson Effect, etc. Even after the experiments had been pioneered, getting results, even negative results, required a lot of diligence and the error discussion was critical to making the grade.
    At the risk of being snipped, todays Climate Scientists wouldn’t have gotten any credit at all. These clowns – they are after all in the field of entertainment – would have been looking for a non-science degree from a less demanding university or college.

  35. Interesting article, but as a non- scientist I would think that professionalism and the fundamental search for the truth should be an all encompassing goal of anyone in the profession.
    I read the book Climategate and as a lay person it bothered the hell out of me how men of science hid the data and the means of making the review process meaningful. After the book I personally felt that the key players and obstructionist should be banned from any further publications. Their total lack of what it should mean to be a scientist was appalling. Retirement and saving any shred of respect should be their goal, not treating those who questioned their results and wanted the backup information for review as pariahs or “Flat Earthers”.
    It seems easy to sit back from my chair and say they have been bought by those with a political agenda, and the more time that passes only strengthens that opinion.

  36. Peter Miller,
    “I am currently exploring and developing a substantial mineral deposit in south central Spain. Absolutely everything I do must be verifiable and reproducable by independents. Also, the procedures I am required to follow to ensure there is no possibility of fraud are onerous. ”
    The fundamental difference between what you are doing and what ‘climate science’ is doing, is that it matters to the people paying your salary that what you claim to be true actually is.
    “Climate science” doesnt need to be true to work for its intended purpose. It just needs to retain the equivalent of the political concept of ‘plausible deniability’. This is why there has been a recent shift towards ‘looking at the uncertainty’ in the face of an inconvenient global temp trend. This newfound desire to ‘look at the uncertainty’ is accompanied by reference to ‘post normal science’ which serve to use ‘uncertainty’ to drive the policy to the same conclusion as the previous fake certainty.

  37. For those who did not realize it, you can download a free PDF copy for personal use. Just got to this URL and look at the left side of the page. I had to give my name and e-mail. No need to wait till your library finds it.
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12192&page=1
    I downloaded a free PDF copy from this site.
    I get periodic e mails from the National Academies Press, and this is how I found out about this “book” in the first place.

  38. Dusty says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:54 am
    Admirable though it might be, I find it unbelievable that such a book needs to be written; what is going on in our schools and universities?
    ———————————————————————————————
    Exactly the way I remember it from the late 50’s and early 60’s in my high school as well. I started to write it down and saw your post which is exactly the same as I was taught both in high school and in University Engineering Labs.
    Now a thought – do “scientists” keep daily journals to document their activities?
    As an Engineer I was required to maintain a daily work journal outlining important activities of the day. I still have (or my company has) all my journals for 30 years of work, if anything was questioned, it could be referenced and indeed the journals called for in a couple of court cases.
    I wonder what the daily journals of some of our climate scientists friends would have in them? Anything?

  39. Sorry I am quite slow today.
    I should have suggested that you can e-mail a PDF to your favorite CAGW scientist that needs to read the book.

  40. A parent admonishing a child: “Do as I say, not as I do.” That pretty much wraps up what the pro AGW scientists are doing when they ignore “ON BEING A SCIENTIST
    A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH.
    THIRD EDITION”

  41. I have been working in scientific research labs in both Hungary and the US (not anymore, I’ve switched to business). Anyway, a striking difference was noticeable between the two environments during coffee breaks. In these informal sessions we used to discuss minute details of each other’s work here, with a brunt of scrutiny. A lot of whims also came up (some of which turned out to be useful later on), many errors were found and misunderstandings cleared. We did it mirthlessly, killed any ideas that deserved killing while it was kept good natured most of the time with no lasting wounds left behind. It was characterized by a genuine desire to understand the issues at hand regardless any possible social consequences (and there was none, for sure). At the end of the day we had a lot of fun.
    In the US it just didn’t work this way. There were of course formal internal workshops with presentations followed by Q/A sessions, but it was more about performance than about the actual subject matter. Questions, if they were not formulated carefully, often met hand waving which went unchallenged because of an uninterested audience or lack of time. And the coffee break sessions I was used to simply could not be replicated. People seemed to treat ideas as a limited resource, they were reluctant to share them in their very infancy. Silly questions were rejected (instead of being turned into better questions). Therefore discussion run into a dead end soon then switched into a neutral direction which had nothing to do with work.
    I do not think it’s characteristic of all research communities in the US, I might have been just unlucky, but it looks quite widespread (at least at universities). I’ve met a guy there who used to work at Bell Labs in its heydays when it was extremely productive. He recalled the same same kind of atmosphere I remembered from home and had the experience of missing this ferocious openness ever since.
    Now, this kind of environment not only makes people more productive (even in an underfunded state), but it is also the best school in ethics of science. If anyone tried cheating, even if only cheating on themselves, it came out into the open in no time and as soon as that happened one knew. And also knew they knew, what is more, knew they knew he knew. The shame would have been unbearable, so one was very cautious to be as honest and thorough as possible. In an environment like that it is utterly impossible to play foul games, therefore one is hard pressed to learn the difference.
    I have lost day-to-day contact with research since then, so the situation might have deteriorated even at home (as it looks like we are adopting worst practices fast), I don’t really know. But I do know the proper atmosphere to do research in is the one I have described. In that case you would not need a textbook to teach you proper conduct and anyway, textbooks never do much good in improving behavior.

  42. Anyone get the irony of this book being available openly for free? Even the very knowledge of how to be a scientist with standards is ignored by many in the climate science field. Sloppy is as sloppy does.
    Now, it would be really great if we could collect together ALL the alleged climate science papers of “note” and request all the data and methods from the authors as this wonderful manual “ON BEING A SCIENTIST: A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH” and other books and guides on the Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Method require of published papers to be considered scientific.
    Along with the list of papers that are “key” to climate science mark the status of their compliance with the scientific method standards, those that provided data, raw data, details of manipulations, methods, statistical equations, software, etc…, everything needed to reproduce the paper’s conclusions (or refute it). Oh, and a list of all papers that it references and a list of all papers that reference it. In addition a list of all the “claims” or “conclusions” and “assumptions” made in each paper would be fantastic so that as each “claim, conclusion, or assumption” is refuted it becomes clear which papers are refuted and nullified in part or in whole.
    Then we grade the papers and see how well the climate scientists and their papers actually stack up against the standards of the scientific method and the standards of the philosophy of science.
    This project is as important as the Surface Stations project, for it cuts to the very heart of the matter.
    What say you?

  43. David L says:
    February 6, 2011 at 4:00 am
    Paul Coombes says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:54 am
    Maybe climate research should be conducted under the watchful eye of the FDA? That would definitely wipe out the shenanigans of Mann et al.
    ——–
    I don’t know how things are in the FDA today, but definitely in the past the FDA has allowed its oversight to be swayed by having very close ties with the chemical industry. In effect it turned a blind eye to the health complaints and deaths of (usually poor) agricultural workers in the 1940s-1960s, or complaints about the effects of drifting organophosphates on the livestock of neighbouring farms. See Pete Daniel, Toxic Drift: Pesticides and Health in the Post-World War II South

  44. Thanks to the link above submitted by Don Shaw, I was able to down load a PDF copy and read manual. Sorry to say, I was very disappointed. Below are passages that I found significant. The first two are good, but there is no rigorous enforcement. The rest is motherhood sanctioning what already exists. I was hoping for more.
    “Given the expectation that data will be accessible, researchers who refuse to share the evidentiary basis behind their conclusions, or the materials needed to replicate published experiments, fail to maintain the standards of science.”
    “Some forms of data undergo extensive analysis before being recorded; consequently, sharing those data can require sharing the software and sometimes the hardware used to analyze them.”
    “Science is largely a self-regulating community. Though government regulates some aspects of research, the research community is the source of most of the standards and practices to which researchers are expected to adhere.”
    “Scientists and their institutions should act to discourage questionable research practices (QRPs) through a broad range of formal and informal methods in the research environment.”
    “The circumstances surrounding potential violations of scientific standards are so varied that it is impossible to lay out a checklist of what should be done. Suspicions are best raised in the form of questions rather than allegations. Expressing concern about a situation or asking for clarification generally works better than making charges.”
    “Researchers have a professional obligation to perform research and present the results of that research as objectively and as accurately as possible. When they become advocates on an issue, they may be perceived by their colleagues and by members of the public as biased. But researchers also have the right to express their convictions and work for social change, and these activities need not undercut a rigorous commitment to objectivity in research.”

  45. And my question as a lay person, Do you just look the other way at the likes of scientists with such renowned backgrounds “Humping for the political elites so they can get their piece of the pie while those with just an inquisitive mind question the obvious gaps and get placed in the flat earth-er category and disregarded as inconsequential.
    It’s more than just looking for grants people, this is a way of taxing us to death on a phony principle that they refuse to reveal.

  46. I’m surprised it doesn’t have a yellow and black cover, like the rest of the “Dummies Guide to ” series…
    I was taught to write scientific reports in High School and University in exactly the same manner as Dusty by teachers who were also qualified scientists in their respective fields. When did the standards change?
    Or is it more that theses “climate scientists” believe they are above such mundane trivialities?

  47. Pamela Gray says:
    February 6, 2011 at 6:49 am
    If this area of human behavior disease goes much further, those of you who are shy will have your own little title for your disease and a special education category in which to bring legal suit against the school system.

    Pam, they already have this. They called it Asberger syndrome.

  48. I remember learing the basics of report writing at school and university, way back in the 1940’s and again in the 1970’s.
    How has this been lost?

  49. Has anybody noticed that there are no responses from trolls, nor even from more honest supporters of the AGW meme, (if I can call it that) who often post here.
    Are they too ashamed?

  50. Pwl says:
    QUOTE IN PART
    Now, it would be really great if we could collect together ALL the alleged climate science papers of “note” and request all the data and methods from the authors …..
    mark the status of their compliance with the scientific method standards, those that provided data, raw data, details of manipulations, methods, statistical equations, software, etc…, everything needed to reproduce the paper’s conclusions (or refute it). Oh, and a list of all papers that it references and a list of all papers that reference it. In addition a list of all the “claims” or “conclusions” and “assumptions” made in each paper would be fantastic so that as each “claim, conclusion, or assumption” is refuted it becomes clear which papers are refuted and nullified in part or in whole.
    Then we grade the papers and see how well the climate scientists and their papers actually stack up against the standards of the scientific method and the standards of the philosophy of science.
    This project is as important as the Surface Stations project, for it cuts to the very heart of the matter.
    UNQUOTE
    I agree completely with Prl.
    This may be the way to get the attention of the media, and with that, the attention of the world’s politicans.
    Since ClimateGate, all the major AGW claims have been disproved, but the politicans just continue unabashed. The voting public in many countries now see AGW as a failed concept, so governments are now pushing AGW restrictions through administrative fiat.
    This will only be stopped if the true facts can be brought out in the light of day.
    Prl’s proposal merits much thought and discussion.
    It would require direction by a group of people of the highest intregrity and standing, including senior scientists, but also judges and others from various walks of life.
    To get it started it requires a group of entheusiasts who can at the apropriate time step back when a committee of heavies is formed.
    Anthony or moderator Charles, this deserves a post on its own.

  51. Still, for all their obvious dishonesty and lackadaisical approach to science, they must be doing something right. Why? Well, because modern temperature records derived from completely different sources by completely different people are in reasonable agreement. Unless perhaps Roy Spencer is an AGW mole!

  52. @JJ
    I agree that ‘plausible beliveability’ couched in enough sciencey phrases with just a dark touch of denialist epithets is the main communication from the AGW groupings. It is for the most part preaching to the choir. The choir will no doubt remain – Jimmy Swaggert did well enough after his fall – but the pews are emptying.
    I for one would be content to stop referring to the non-science and concentrate on supporting the real work that needs to be done. Stop raging against the darkness because in the end, it is still dark.
    A good venture might be an online WUWT magazine of reviewed articles, to be followed by a print version. The readership is already here. It needs a deal with someone in the publishing business.

  53. Excellent article by Joe D’Aleo, with numerous links & mentions of Anthony Watts….very interesting, and highly recommended!
    http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/6440/Is-It-Really-The-Warmest-Ever
    I liked this inclusion:
    Dwight Eisenhower in his 1961 Farewell Address to the Nation warned: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

  54. Jeremy said @ February 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm
    ” Pamela Gray says:
    February 6, 2011 at 6:49 am
    If this area of human behavior disease goes much further, those of you who are shy will have your own little title for your disease and a special education category in which to bring legal suit against the school system.
    Pam, they already have this. They called it Asberger syndrome.”
    Aspies ain’t necessarily shy. Here’s my list of what makes The Pompous Git an Aspie:
    1. He spends more time involved with objects and physical systems than with people;
    2. He communicates less than others do;
    3. He tends to follow his own desires and beliefs rather than paying attention to, or being easily influenced by, others’ desires and beliefs;
    4. He shows relatively little interest in what the social group is doing, or being a part of it;
    5. He has strong, persistent interests;
    6. He is very accurate at perceiving the details of information;
    7. He notices and recalls things other people do not;
    8. His view of what is relevant and important in a situation often fails to coincide with others;
    9. He is fascinated by patterns and systems in the world — visual, numeric, alphanumeric, etc;
    10. He collects things: books and records (music) mainly, but also certain types of information;
    11. He has a strong preference for experiences that are controllable rather than unpredictable;
    12. He has an IQ that places him in the top 2% of the population;
    13. He’s happier in his own company than with crowds;
    14. He is naive;
    15. He has a strong sense of justice;
    16. He takes what people say literally; that is, he’s relatively impervious to irony, double-meaning, subtext etc.
    Based on Simon Baron-Cohen’s work.

  55. The CAGW theory is not addressable by science. It is a question of belief surounded by scientific side issues – with most of those raised not subject to empirical verification and of the “study” (not labaratory experiment) variety.
    Taking the statistical and research conduct classes for the non-empirical dicipline of accounting, I was struck by what would be the honest approach that the date collected could really never demonstrate anything but types and degrees of correlation. The “Conclusion” sections never the less required something more than that to get attention. So every research project is concluded with “X may or likely mean Y, however further research could reveal more of the same.” You always get around the absence of proof with qualifiers like “likely” or “could.” Add media, money and politicians and you’ve got yourself a gig.

  56. A less-talked about but serious flaw in the “science paradigm” as practiced by the journal-chasers and status-seekers is the “positive results bias”.
    A refutation or dis-confirmation actually conveys more information, and is more valuable, than an (apparent) positive result. Yet it’s very difficult to get such study results published, not to mention get funding for a replication study that will likely restore H0 instead of H1, H2, &/or H3!
    “If I was Science Uber-Czar” I would require that every journal publish an equal number of pages and articles over the course of a year with “failure to confirm” previous claims to the positive ones. It would sweep away a lot of nonsense, and put status and funding in the hands of much better practitioners of the art of truthful data-seeking than is now the case.
    And Climate Science and the Hokey Team would go out in a brief but violent blaze of glory.

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