Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Pal Review

A rather scathing editorial comment on pal review has appeared in Global and Planetary Change  sadly behind a paywall, but Eli suspects soon to be featured, if not already on a number of blogs.  It concerns a paper published earlier by Hermann. Harde: “Scrutinizing the carbon cycle and CO2 residence time in the atmosphere”. Global and Planetary Change 152 (2017), 19–26 which can be viewed on line.  This paper was much commented on, in the sense of how did this crap get published in an ostensibly useful journal as well as a Detailed Comment by a number of extremely distinguished lagomorphs,  and today we have an answer from the editorial board
During the initial manuscript submission, H. Harde suggested five potential reviewers. Most if not all of them are prominent individuals advocating that currently raising CO2 concentrations would be natural and not related to human influence. A careful assessment of their CVs, fields of expertise and publications lists leads to the conclusion that none of the five reviewers proposed by Harde can be considered as an expert or authority in carbon cycle, carbon or climate sensitivity or similar fields of research.
Two of them agreed to take on this onerous task.  This pal review kinda bothered the editors, nononono, not the editor who, shall Eli say, guided the Harde paper through the process that when they sent Harde's reply to the Detailed Comment itself out for review,
In reviewing the Reply, the reviewers felt that Harde's argument is “...too simplistic, based on invalid assumptions, ignores a whole body of observational evidence, and cites selectively literature that has long-time been disproved”. The experts confirm the suggestion by Köhler et al. (2018) that “...the paper be withdrawn by the author, editor or publisher due to fundamental errors in the understanding of the carbon cycle.” Most importantly, the expert reviewers clarified that Harde (2017) does not contribute to a seemingly open scientific debate or provides an alternative view. In contrast, it “...contains many mistakes, misconceptions and omissions and ignores a vast body of scholarly literature on the subject” (quotes from the reviews).
and the other editors and Elsevier were extremely not happy about how the reviewers of Harde's manuscript were selected and between the line, the editor who did the deed
. . .however in the case of the initial submission of Harde (2017), this was not done. Additional factors indicated the potential for there to be flaws with this submission: it is highly unlikely that a single author without any demonstrated scientific track record in this field can ‘scrutinize’ and disprove the work of dozens or hundreds of experts performed over several decades; work that has been verified with multiple lines of independent evidence and is regularly reviewed in an utmost transparent process such as the Assessment Reports of the IPCC (2013).
 Suggestions?  Of course, the editors had some including publishing the name of the handling editor for all papers and increase the involvement of the entire editorial board
The Editorial Board is more than decoration; it is an exclusive pool of highly qualified experts who are committed to support the entire review process and provide additional expert opinions in the case of conflicting reviews or doubt.
and the publisher agreed
in this case the author selected an editor who was not an expert in the field and that editor invited the reviewers suggested by the author without checking their credentials – the editor was therefore not in a position to perform a sufficiently critical evaluation of the manuscript.
 Elsevier agreed with the suggestion to publish the name of the editor who makes the decision to publish with on the publication, to appoint new editors to better cover the field and that authors should not suggest the names of possible reviewers.

This all reminds Eli of yesteryear.  Some here abouts may remember Gerlich and Tscheuschner published a 90 page paper on how atmospheric science was wrong in a condensed matter journal, the International Journal of Modern Physics B.  Georg Hoffman had something to say about the process which reminds us that this is not the first time that motivated editors have slipped nonsense into a journal.  It's in German so allow Eli to translate
I wanted to know a little more detail then. Who made what decision regarding G / T at the Journal? A request via the email address of the journal, which, as far as I can see, has a focus more in Asia, led me to editor Mr. Wong Chee Keong Benjamin, who was very proud of the 90 pages:
Physics is able to explain natural phenomena, such as climate change. Furthermore, heat transfer and thermodynamic concepts such as Gibbs theorem have numerous applications in solar technology and condensed matter physics.
I wondered if he had read the paper, and indeed, if anyone at IJMPB had read the paper. When asked who had accepted the paper, he sent me much to my surprise back to Germany. According to Mr. Keong Benjamin the final decision would have been made by Professor Wolfram Schommers. In turn, he was not pleased that I even considered reporting on this paper. He said that he had to stand by the decision of the house editor (not knowing who that was) and trust the reviewers. The only way to respond to G / T would be via peer-reviewed response in IJMPB.  
This appears to have been Prof. Schommers fall back position.  Unfortunately for him, the bunnies pushed on but that is another story.
When the lion roars, who will not fear? The same peer review, which not only allowed this paper through especially including comments about the "scientific misconduct of Raschke / Bakan"? I mean, you can do one thing (write this post) and you do not have to do the other one (provide a formal reply). Professor Schommers, I think, should be less worried about what I'm writing in this little blog at the end of the world than about how peer review works in his journal. The Gerlich / Tscheuschner paper is one of the saddest examples of how peer review can sometimes go down the drain, and it would be desirable if the journal would do something to limit the damage. An apology to Stephan Bakan and Ehrhard Raschke would be a first step.


Russell Seitz said...

I dare Judith Curry to repost this-- it would do the palanoid tendency in her commentariat a world of good.

Everett F Sargent said...

Here's one for you, one Jamal Munshi ...

AFAIK, these are all climate science denier artifakes, none of which have ever been formally published in ANY journal (even the trashy pay-to-play predatory ilk).

However, these do show up in Google Scholar searches. In fact, it is rather hard not to trip over these nonsense artifakes.

There is a method to this nonsense and it relies on finding a real paper on Google Scholar and then searching that paper's subsequent references list. I use this method all the time to find more recent papers with respect to the original paper.

So what does Munchi do? That denier cites as many real climate science papers that do get high citation counts. That way anyone using this subsequent references search method has a very high probability of tripping over one (usually several) of this denier's artifakes.

Ned Nikolov also used this method in their two POS artifakes. I've also tripped over at least two of Harde's POS artifakes.

I'd like to see a personal Google Scholar blacklist feature so that I can permanently blacklist Munshi, et. al. denier artifakes.

I can't tell you how many CO2 is not a GHG artifakes or Monkers is Bonkers lowballed ECS artifakes or GMSL is not rising artifakes or GMST is not rising artifakes, but I think I'm now in the low four digits.

2. Something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure.
"widespread denier infection may be a technical artifake"

Fernando Leanme said...

Reading this paper left me completely stressed out. It brings back memories of the tine in my life when I had to read engineering reports and papers written in this style. Imagine trying to wade through something like that with a yellow highlight marker and writing comments on the margins? Sometimes when I finished I had to call a team leader into my office and yell a bit about an unrelated subject (team leaders and interns are useful for this purpose, but it's not good to yell at interns when you think you may want to offer them a job).

Thomas Palm said...

Seems Fred Singer is getting even more emeritus. Now he thinks more CO2 will cool the Earth, and he got it published, although not in a scientific journal.

Gavin Cawley said...

Ironically, Singer also published Climate Deniers Are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name" in the same journal, where he criticized deniers (his choice of words, not mine) for making the skeptic "side" of the "debate" look bad by publishing scientific ideas that were obvious nonsense.

Russell Seitz said...

As even pals have enemies, it may take the folks at WUWt & Climate tc. a while to sort out the 37,000 ( and counting) folks who reviewed papers for Nature last year.

Donald Strong said...

Elsevier says it all.

marcoclimate said...

Donald Strong: what exactly does that say?