Getting GRLed

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. recently submitted this paper to Geophysical Research Letters (GRL):

A homogeneous database of global landfalling tropical cyclones

Jessica Weinkle* and Roger Pielke, Jr.

Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado, 1333 Grandview Ave, Campus Box 488, Boulder, Colorado 80309

Abstract

In recent decades, economic damage from tropical cyclones (TCs) around the world has increased dramatically. Scientific literature published to date is strongly suggestive that the increase in losses can be explained entirely by increasing wealth in locations prone to tropical cyclone landfalls. However, no homogenized dataset of tropical cyclone landfalls has been created. We have constructed such a homogenized global landfall TC database. We find no long-term global trends in the frequency or intensity of landfalling TCs for the period with reliable data, providing very strong support for the conclusion that increasing damage around the world over the period(s) of record can be explained entirely by increasing wealth in locations prone to TC landfalls, and adding confidence in the fidelity of economic normalization analyses.

Seems straightforward enough. It came back with two reviews, both with some corrections, one reviewer suggesting publication without major caveats, the other grudgingly suggesting publication to the editor, Noah Diffenbaugh, and asking for revisions. So far so good (you’d think). But it starts getting weird from here. Pielke Jr. asks this set of questions:

As the editor what would you do?

A) Provisionally accept the paper pending a revision that meets the editor’s judgment of responsiveness

B) Provisionally accept the paper pending re-review by the two reviewers

C) Reject the paper

D) Reject the paper and tell the authors that any reconsideration of the paper would have to be accompanied by a detailed response to the two reviewers followed by selection of new reviewers and a restart of the review process

If you picked (D) then you too can be an editor at GRL.

Read the whole bizarre peer review story here.

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Dear Kev has won another battle against science. AR5 looking more and more like a pile of inconsequential rubbish.

Dr Pielke jr said
“In recent decades, economic damage from tropical cyclones (TCs) around the world has increased dramatically. Scientific literature published to date is strongly suggestive that the increase in losses can be explained entirely by increasing wealth in locations prone to tropical cyclone landfalls.”.
There are close comparisons in other industries that back up this statement. For instance, in the UK, flood damage and claims can be traced to a number of factors other than the severity of the flood incident.;
1 More people live in the areas prone to flooding because they tend to be desirable riverside/sea side locatioons.
2 People are generally less tolerant of flooding and want certain protection by means of a physical wall rather than mitigate the effects by say placing their electrical outlets above flood levels.
3 Claims are generally higher because of increased wealth which reflects itself in the cost of repairing homes and replacing goods.
tonyb

See my comments on Pielke’s blog.
The decision for major revision was justified as the original paper oversold its results.
Instead of revising the paper, Pielke Jr decided to pick a fight and was told to FO.

Tony Hansen

Too spelings
…publication without major *caeats*, the other *grudingly* suggesting publication…

Gras Albert

Might I enquire who was/is the GRL editor for the recent Dessler response awaiting galley proof revision major rewrite?
Pending a response, would it be appropriate to suggest that Diffenbaugh would appear to have more justification for professional Seppuku than Wagner

Peter Plail

Richard Tol
Can’t see your comments on Roger Pielke’s blog unless you were reviewer 2. I was hoping to read his response.

Truthseeker

Richard Tol,
I went to Pielke’s blog (Jr not Sr) and could not find any comments under your handle (unless you used a different one). At no point did Pielke Jr “pick a fight” as you put it. He wanted clarification and got prompt but puzzling responses.

TerryS

Re: Richard Tol
There are 20 comments on Dr. Roger Pielke Jr blog entry. None of then are authored by anybody called “Richard”, “Rich”, “Dick”, “Dickie”, “Dicky”, “RT”, “R.T”, “RTol”, “Tol” or any other possible combination of your name I can think of.
There is only one comment that seems to imply a major revision was called for and that was by someone calling themselves “Jacob B”. Is that you?

The decision for major revision was justified as the original paper oversold its results.

Could you please point out which reviewer makes this claim and cite the part of the review that claims this. Alternatively, could you cite where in the email exchanges it claims the paper oversold its results.
None of the reviewers call for any changes in the results of the paper which implies they did not have a problem with the results.

John Wright

@ Richard Tol
I went straight to the Pielke site to read your comments (and Pielke’s eventual replies), but could find no trace of either.

AdderW

The process of peer review has completely lost its function.
Peer review today, is a flawed process, and regretfully, intellectual giants are too often audited, scrutinised and controlled by intellectual pygmees, who are refusing everything that they don’t understand or what is deemed politically incorrect.
The increasing centralisation of scientific research has allowed powerful, but mediocre scientists, to supress any idea that would undermine their own prestige, since any new theory by definition, is lowering the prestige of the already “established” scientists.

If the GRL correspondence was sent out for peer review, it would be rejected as meaningless and without merit.

Frank Kotler

Different reviewers required? Do the first pair share some “notions” with Dr. Pielke?
Considering that this is “the greatest threat facing mankind”, seems strange that this work hasn’t already been done, no?

I’m not in the academic publish or perish world (specifically avoided it, actually) – but I can tell you without doubt that in a highly technical field, corporate setting, for someone to send back a piece of work saying revisions are needed, but I’m not gonna tell you what they are, you have to GUESS – very clearly means that you are dealing with a p*ss poor manager/reviewer who may never be satisfied or who has a hidden agenda.
As to Richard Tol’s comment that a ‘major revision’ designation was warranted because the work was ‘oversold’ and a single word addition to the title is needed to tone it down… I’m sorry, but a single word addition for a title change – which is acceptable to the authors – can hardly be called a ‘major revision’ in much of anyone’s book. When all comments, none of which significantly alter the meaning or impact of the work, can be addressed in a matter of a few hours – a day – on a substantial piece of work, well, that’s hardly ‘major.’ All of this is virtually by definition ‘minor.’
It still rolls back around to the editor returning it with a few minor easily addressed comments providing well specified requirements, along with a whopping big utterly unspecified ‘major revision’ requirement, which, in order to meet, the author must try to read the editors mind or randomly guess at what might meet the ambiguous requirement. It’s just silly, and that’s putting it nicely (silly, of course, is not quite the impact or reputation a supposedly solid science journal wants).

KnR

Richard Tol, GRL claim this paper need ‘major revisions’ but simply cannot explain what they are beyond a word change , which is hardly ‘major’ in anyone’s language . If there major in nature why are they so hard to describe in practice? And that is not the reviewers opinions but the editors who has refused to give feedback , instead his boss as made this claim.
So the paper is blocked on grounds that are unclear, by a person that refuses to say why, buts its not based the reviewers . You can see why people amuse there has been been some ‘Team’ work at play given the lack of clarity especial after the nonsensical resigning of Wagner .

David

These findings cannot be emphasized enough – the economic damage is PRECISELY due to the ‘increased wealth’ of the victims – NOT, as gets bandied about by the ‘warmists’, due to an increase in the number or severity of Cylones etc.

Ken Hall

“There are close comparisons in other industries that back up this statement. For instance, in the UK, flood damage and claims can be traced to a number of factors other than the severity of the flood incident.;
1 More people live in the areas prone to flooding because they tend to be desirable riverside/sea side locatioons.
2 People are generally less tolerant of flooding and want certain protection by means of a physical wall rather than mitigate the effects by say placing their electrical outlets above flood levels.
3 Claims are generally higher because of increased wealth which reflects itself in the cost of repairing homes and replacing goods.
tonyb”
Additionally, the flood defences which have been erected in many areas which block or prevent minor floods which relieve normal flooding pressure, but which also ensure that larger floods spread further and are far worse than would otherwise be the case. Additionally flood ditches which farmers do not maintain on their land, which have caused some recent floods to be worse than would otherwise be the case.
As for this article, it is more evidence of the perversion of peer-review in climate research. The likelihood of publication is less dependent on the solidity of the scientific research, rather than the political leaning of the conclusion as to whether it supports the ‘agenda’ or not.

My comments on Pielke’s site await approval. It’s early still in Colorado.

TedK

Richard Tol (@RichardTol) says:
September 27, 2011 at 12:24 am
See my comments on Pielke’s blog.
The decision for major revision was justified as the original paper oversold its results.

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. recently submitted this paper to Geophysical Research Letters (GRL):
A homogeneous database of global landfalling tropical cyclones

The only suggestion the editor could make as a “major revision” was adding the word “toward” to the title. You directly state that the original paper oversold it’s results. Just what word in the title oversells the submitted paper results?
Adding the word “toward” into the title does not change the title itself other than to imply a diminutive. A very curious suggestion by anyone as it means they acknowledge the validity of the original title, but they desire to set an undefined tropical cyclone database standard that somewhere sometime somebody else might achieve.
The least a professional (editor, reviewer, whatever) should have done is explained their peculiar notions of database standards and just why the word “toward” improves this particular paper so that it not only merits, (as the reviewers stated) but is allowed publication.
Basically Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s paper was rejected because of an undefined mysterious standard that the editors will not divulge. A truly bizarre approach for editors, unless the editors in question just want to prevent publication, just because; so there (imagined with their tongues outand “the team’s” official lollipops in hand, of course)… Sillier and sillier are the machinations used to obfuscate the real science.

Kasuha

It kinda explains how can GRL have so short acceptance times – you either succeed or start from scratch.

Paul Coppin

“After consulting again with my editor for Climate,…”
No one need look any further than this comment from Calais. In 8 simple words he managed to destroy the credibility of a journal.and its peer review process.

The damning detail isn’t that they rejected the paper, but their inability to explain why (and Diffenbaugh’s refusal to answer emails subsequently) .
That’s what breaks the trust. Therefore discussions about the merits of the paper or Pielke Jr’s reactions are besides the point.

I thought they planned to ‘redefine’ the peer review process, not leave it undefined

TerryS

Re: Richard Tol

My comments on Pielke’s site await approval. It’s early still in Colorado.

Then you should have either waited for them to appear on Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s site or posted them here.

Peter Stroud

The whole business of poor, politically motivated peer review in the climate change area, is becoming incredibly dangerous. It is so worrying that policy makers are deliberately starved of any scientific findings that fail to toe the established warmists line. As a retired experimental physicist I despair at the miserably low level of behaviour of editors of learned journals. If papers such as the one in question are suppressed, then Gore will be free to continue spouting his personally profitable, pseudo scientific claptrap.

I’m interested in knowing what role Richard Tol is playing in the upcoming AR5.

John

KnR says:
Richard Tol, GRL claim this paper need ‘major revisions’ but simply cannot explain what they are beyond a word change , which is hardly ‘major’ in anyone’s language . If there major in nature why are they so hard to describe in practice? And that is not the reviewers opinions but the editors who has refused to give feedback , instead his boss as made this claim.
So the paper is blocked on grounds that are unclear, by a person that refuses to say why, buts its not based the reviewers . You can see why people amuse there has been been some ‘Team’ work at play given the lack of clarity especial after the nonsensical resigning of Wagner .
They explain it here: ” claims of a new homogeneous database (based on JTWC outside of the US) are grossly over-stated as there is much work needed before that can be genuinely claimed. This is especially so in regard to intensity, which the authors treat fairly simplistically in any case. ”
They suggest that “I would like to see that aspect down-played and perhaps the title adjusted to read “Towards a homogeneous database …” or some such.” you’ll notice the use of the word and which doesn’t normally mean changing the title is the only requirement to down-play the over-stated claim. Roger Pielke, either needed to write back to justify how this paper did indeed support the claim of a “new homogeneous database” or change the paper to make it clearer it was a piece of work towards a homogeneous database. Given the reviews the 2nd option looks like it would have then been accepted, why he chose not to do that and instead that the action he has is of rather more interesting than the review process seen here.

elbapo

Im sorry but it is clear to me that, while the wording of the comments relating to the ‘rejection’ of this article are bizarre, Roger here has seen a conspiracy when there was none. I understand the frustration and even the mindset when trust has been so fundamentally undermined across the peer review process, but people should be wary not to start throwing toys from prams at various journals when they ask for revisions to be made. The paper should have been resubmitted – if continual problems occurred down the line Roger may have more grounds to complain. As it stands,all this means is that another journals editorial team now who thinks a little less of the behaviours of skeptical sceintists and sees us all as conspipracy kooks. People on this side of the argument have calm rationality on our side, it is our main weapon and this type of behaviour undermines this premise. In my view, unhelpful to the cause.

Max_b

In my view it looks like somebody at GRL made a poor decision, and then Roger backed them into a corner… in response they decided to get a bit snotty. I would have just made ‘some’ of the changes suggested by the 2nd reviewer and resubmitted to GRL to ‘play the game’. Roger seems to have chosen an alternative resolution and gone elsewhere… Neither Roger or GRL seem willing to climb down from their positions…

If you submit a paper, say, “Crop production trends” to the “US agriculture journal”, but one reviewer points out, while the paper is otherwise sound, a more precise title could be “Crop production trends in southwest Madagascar”, and the editor might judge that this isn’t something for his journal after all, even though the reviewer thinks it’s quite publishable with this minor change in its title.
My point is that I suspect that the paper was rejected not because it was anything very wrong in it per se, but because its contents weren’t exactly as originally advertised (according to one reviewer). I’m not saying that the reviewer is absolutely right. I’m just trying to find a plausible explanation which doesn’t involve conspiracy theories.

Shevva

@Richard Tol, If you think that a paper that needs ‘Major Revision’ ie a one word title change should be rejected, what is your opinion on the hockey stick shaped temp. record? Just wondering on your standards towards pro and con CAGW papers?
I assume that you agree with the suppression shown towards papers that do not agree with the IPCC?

A simple search shows two papers on climate economics by a Richard S J Tol:
Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change. Part 1: Benchmark Estimates
http://www.springerlink.com/content/maxtvyqm2yr5yax0/
The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties
http://puc.sd.gov/commission/dockets/civil/2006/civ06-399/7930-7940.pdf
He appears to be the same Richard Tol who last year (with Roger Pielke and Hans von Storch) called for IPCC reform and for Pachauri to resign…
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,673944,00.html
… and (with Bjorn Lomborg) has been attacked by desmogblog …
http://www.desmogblog.com/directory/vocabulary/660
… and Deltoid
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/01/tolgate.php

Richard Tol’s comments are puzzling at best. He has not seen our paper, nor does he know anything about tropical cyclone data. Further, he apparently is unaware that GRL defines “major revisions” in terms of the time needed to do them, rather than the definition that he invented:
“[M]anuscripts are routinely declined if the reviews point to a need for additional analyses, simulations, or other significant changes to support purported high-impact results or implications. However, for those submissions that show promise of reaching GRL’s criteria, authors are encouraged to resubmit following necessary revisions. While “resetting the clock” on manuscripts that require major revisions reduces the time-to-publication dates, the policy is motivated not by a desire to make the GRL editorial process appear as rapid as possible but rather by a desire to
make the process be as rapid as possible.”
http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/Editorial_GRL.pdf
I also find his comments curious about picking a fight, as anyone can see from my exchange with GRL, it was professional at all times. I simply lost trust in a process in which our editor refused to reply to very simply questions of clarification and the chief editor was unable or unwilling to point our what “major revisions” were needed. Thus, I’ll take my business elsewhere.
One might think that as an economist, Tol would perfectly well understand such a response.

Ex-Wx Forecaster

I still don’t understand why the scientific process became so corrupted in so many areas outside of Climatism and related faiths. What’s in it for the GRL editor? Money? A job? How is it that Climatists have gained so much power in the formerly-scientific community? However their success has occurred, I can only hope Creationists don’t figure out how to do it.

Ken Hall
You are quite right to add those additional flooding elements to my original post. They are the end result of deliberate policy-in the case of farmers ditches we had a vogue of discouraging silt extraction in order to encourage wildlife.
The end result is that costs rise due to our actions or inactions and no amount of flood defence work can get away from the basic causes-more people living in areas often unsuited to human habotation but exprecting increased protection.
The net effect is that claims will escalate irrespective of whether ‘climate change’ is a cause. I’m not sure that warrants a paper, let alone it being rejected-the truth should be self eviident.
tonyb

kim

Tol, the tease. C’mon, man, cut & paste.
==========

@Baa Humbug
I’m a CLA in WG2, chapter on economic impacts.

coldlynx

Richard Tol are a Nobel price winner according to his twitter signature link
http://www.ae-info.org/ae/User/Tol_Richard
How come I am not surprised?
🙂

Richard Tol (@RichardTol) says:
September 27, 2011 at 12:24 am
> See my comments on Pielke’s blog.
For those disappointed by their unavailability, they are now available. It appears the moderation team at WUWT is more responsive than Roger (but we could infer that given it was 0121 in Colorado):

Richard Tol said… 22
@Roger
The verdict by Referee 2 is clearly negative: You oversell.
Overselling may be countered in less than an hour by changing a sentence here and there. However, the definition of “major revision” is in the substance of the revision, rather than in the effort made.
The editor’s decision “revise-and-resubmit” is thus appropriate. As GRL does not do that, “reject-but-resubmit” follows.
Instead of rejoicing, you decided to pick a fight. The decision thus became “reject-and-never-come-back”.
Tue Sep 27, 01:21:00 AM MDT

Note that Roger found “major revisions” means:

The EOS editorial that you point to explains a major revision as “if the reviews point to a need for additional analyses, simulations, or other significant changes to support purported high-impact results or implications.” No such requests were made of our paper by the reviewers.

Why not submit it to a journal that deals with economics? They are the people that need the data.

Wil Sappenfield

The revision needed is pretty clear to me.. Add “As the world continues to warm due to increasing CO2 levels..”. It will fly through resubmittal!

One way of dealing with such a situation is to request another referee. I recently published a paper in GRL where the reviews were diverging. The decision letter read:
“Thank you for submitting the manuscript “Geomagnetic Semiannual Variation Is Not Overestimated and Is Not an Artifact of Systematic Solar Hemispheric Asymmetry” (2011GL048161) to Geophysical Research Letters. Based on the reviews, I believe that your article requires a major revision, and therefore I cannot accept this version of your manuscript for publication (please see Editorial Policies for major revisions at http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/Editorial_GRL.pdf).
You will see that reviewer #2 (reviews enclosed below) found promise in your study…”
Compare that with the letter to Pielke:
“Thank you for submitting the manuscript “A homogeneous database of global landfalling tropical cyclones” (2011GL049419) to Geophysical Research Letters. Based on the review, I believe that the article requires a major revision, and therefore I cannot accept this version of the manuscript for publication (please see Editorial Policies for major revisions at http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/Editorial_GRL.pdf).
You will see that the review (comments enclosed below) found promise in the manuscript…
It is clear that the decision letter was just boilerplate.
Here is how I dealt with it:
“Letter to Editor: 22 June, 2011
Dear Editor,
With a spread in evaluation from 1A to 4C it is clear that the review process has failed. Either reviewer #2 [1A] displays gross error in judgment or reviewer #1 [4C] has not understood (or is biased) the paper in spite of the A rating from #2. As reviewer #2 has presented a thoughtful and useful review, I respond in specific details to reviewer #2.
Reviewer #1 has given the paper a 4C rating, where the C means that “The manuscript cannot readily be revised into Category A”. I therefore confine myself to general remarks [as the review is not specific at all], and in keeping with the C-rating shall not attempt [unjustified] major revision.
I therefore request a third referee for arbitration, unless Reviewer #1 could provide a meaningful and specific review.”
The response on the 2nd round was
“My recommendation is for the author to make minor changes and for the editor to disregard the comments of the first referee.”
And the paper was duly published. So it sometimes does help to complain.

Wijnand

@ Richard Tol,
“MAJOR REVISION”……..add the word “toward” into the title (as per the reviewer).
No wonder you climate guys need so much money, every time you wanna add a word you have to get approval from major Revision, whereas us lesser mortals can suffice with letting corporal Revision know…

Pascvaks

Re-Consider the publication – “Geophysical Research Letters”.
Re-Consider the Editor’s Memo – “Paper Rejected! Any reconsideration of the paper would have to be accompanied by a detailed response to the two reviewers followed by selection of new reviewers and a restart of the review process.”
Ready?
Publish the paper on-line at your own website and any others willing to take it without editing. Work with other scientists facing similar editing of their papers. Start your own collective website for publication of such papers.
Result?
You’re published and such narrow “periodicals” perish.
Say “Good Bye ‘Geophysical Research Letters’.” (et al)

In my post at Pielke, Jr’s blog (about #32 – it is still in moderation), I link the rejecting editor, Noah Diffenbaugh, to last month’s Stephen H. Schneider Symposium at NCAR down the road from CU-Boulder where Roger is posted.
Although the participant list is now forbidden, (SEE https://woods.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/wp/), is was not only a couple weeks ago. I believe Kevin Trenberth was among them. As for Diffenbaugh, I don’t recall and cannot check.
But one of the two primary aims of the symposium were announced as, “To identify key challenges for the future – in climate science, climate science and policy, and climate science communication – and possible ways to address these challenges.” And in this, Diffenbaugh iw indeed a leading “gatekeeper.”
We read on the home page of the Woods Institute for The Environment at Stanford, where Schneider was based, this: “Center Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh appeared on The [Al Gore led] Climate Reality Project on September 14, where he discussed his climate modelling research. (Noah Appears at 42-min mark).” https://woods.stanford.edu/
I think a close surmise is that Diffenbaugh is allied with the CAGW-alarmist – if late – Professor Schneider, and both with Kevin Trenberth. But I would like to see Diffenbaugh’s attendence at the Symposium confirmed, or else another colleague of his.
Science IS being sacrificed to Pagan Political Gods.

Not surprisingly, Roger Pielke, Jr appears to be much quicker at approving comments now that it’s daytime in Colorado.
Per precedent, “See my comments on Pielke’s blog.”

Oh. And Trenberth is, of course, at NCAR, where the Symposium was held. This is the same Trenberth implicated in the climategate emails for rallying the CAGW wagons.

Gail Combs

Wil Sappenfield says: @ September 27, 2011 at 5:45 am
“The revision needed is pretty clear to me.. Add “As the world continues to warm due to increasing CO2 levels..”. It will fly through resubmittal!”
AH yes the “Get out of Jail Free Card” for peer-reviewed Journals.
It is amazing how often that or a similar phrase is tacked on to otherwise good science and often on papers that have little or nothing to do with CO2 or climate.

Leif (September 27, 2011 at 5:51 am), The process that you describe is much easier to engage in when your editor actually responds to your emails 😉 Note that in our boilerplate letter the editor refers to a single review when in fact we had two, sloppy at best.

Steve from rockwood

At what point in history was GRL run by a group of virgins dedicated to the advancement of science? And can someone point me in the direction of a journal that does not have it’s own internal mandate?