Gavin Schmidt’s opinion of the Energy and Environment Journal E&E

Posted: February 18, 2011 by tallbloke in Philosophy

News travels slowly to this corner of Yorkshire, and anyway, I don’t frequent the blog in question, but I thought it worth posting this up for the record:

The many existing critiques of peer review as a system (for instance by Richard Smith, ex-editor of the BMJ, or here, or in the British Academy report), sometimes appear to assume that all papers arrive at the journals fully formed and appropriately written. They don’t. The mere existence of the peer review system elevates the quality of submissions, regardless of who the peer reviewers are or what their biases might be. The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s (Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen) political line – you end up with a backwater of poorly presented and incoherent contributions that make no impact on the mainstream scientific literature or conversation. It simply isn’t worth wading through the dross in the hope of finding something interesting

Interesting. Once again, just as with the declined Lisbon invite, Gavin projects political motives onto those he disapproves of.

In his Lisbon public event speech Jerry Ravetz noted:

Social researchers have found that each scientific side explains its own attitudes in methodological terms, and explains the attitudes of the opposition in sociological terms. Roughly speaking, “I” am being a scientist, and “They” are being – something else.

Some recent papers published in E&E

Barriers to Large-Scale Renewable Energy Generation
Bryan Leyland, MSc, FIMechE, FIPENZ
Wind Farming in South East Australia
Andrew Miskelly and Tom Quirk
Wind Power Characteristics on the North West Coast of Saudi Arabia
Shafiqur Rehman and Naif M. Al-Abbadi
Wave Energy Generation: High Expectations and Current Reality in the UK
Anthony Brown
Energy is the Key: Renewable Energy Problems in Germany: “Renewable” Energies are not a Solution Rather They Increase Foreign Dependency.
Michael Limburg
Biodiesel: Vehicle Fuel From Vegetable Oil
Scott Button
Processing of Triglycerides to Diesel Range Hydrocarbon Fuels: Easily Practicable Small Scale Approach
James O. Olusola, Mesubi M. Adediran, Ajanaku K. Oluseyi and Usman L. Ajao

[UPDATE 32-2-2011]

E&E have responded as follows:

From: Bill Hughes
Cc: Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
Subject:: E&E libel
Date: 02/18/11 10:48:01

Gavin, your comment about Energy & Environment which you made on RealClimate has been brought to my attention:

“The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s political line. ”

To assert, without knowing, as you cannot possibly know, not being connected with the journal yourself, that an academic journal does not bother with peer review, is a terribly damaging charge, and one I’m really quite surprised that you’re prepared to make. And to further assert that peer review is abandoned precisely in order to let the editor publish papers which support her political position, is even more damaging, not to mention being completely ridiculous.

At the moment, I’m prepared to settle merely for a retraction posted on RealClimate. I’m quite happy to work with you to find a mutually satisfactory form of words: I appreciate you might find it difficult.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes
Bill Hughes
Director
Multi-Science Publsihing Co Ltd

Comments
  1. Roger Andrews says:

    Tallbloke. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but I dimly remember that a few weeks ago Richard Courtney, an editor(?) of E&E, posted a rebuttal to this on Judith Curry’s website. It might be worth checking into.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Maybe it was an earlier insult Roger. This is within the last week. No realcluemate have been dissing E&E for years though, so it’s not a new phenomenon.

  3. Zeke the Sneak says:

    “You end up with a backwater of poorly presented and incoherent contributions that make no impact on the mainstream scientific literature or conversation.”

    Apparently from experience Gavin Schmidt would like to point out to us that scientists (or practitioners of science as the PNS saying goes), who are working on research projects and writing papers, as a whole, are all basically slouches.

    With the proper thought leadership, however, science has an “impact” on “mainstream conversation.”

  4. Tenuc says:

    “You end up with a backwater of poorly presented and incoherent contributions that make no impact on the mainstream scientific literature or conversation.”

    Perhaps it would be more apt if Gavin was standing in front of a mirror holding a copy of Nature and New Scientist when giving the above quote.

  5. tallbloke says:

    If our current best estimate of the trend in TSI over the next two solar cycles is correct, and has the effect on northern hemisphere winter weather I expect it will, then the Team will learn more about their hypothesis by looking out of the window than they will by looking in the mirror. Reflective thinking doesn’t seem to be their strong suit anyway. Mother nature will be letting everyone know who the new scientists are.

    It’s snowing here in Yorkshire this morning.

  6. tallbloke says:

    The bad blood between the Team and E&E is well exemplified in the climategate emails too.

    Mike Mann:
    “Secondly, we think you need to also focus on the legal implications. In particular, you should mention that the publisher of a libel is also liable for damages — that might make Sonja B-C be a little wary. Of course, if it does get published, maybe the resulting settlement would shut down E&E and Benny and Sonja all together! We can only hope, anyway. So maybe in an odd way its (sic) actually win-win for us, not them. Lets (sic) see how this plays out…”

    Backstory here:
    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=5347

    Of course it turned out that they couldn’t produce the data and Jones eventually wrote a different Asian UHI paper with quite different findings.

  7. Bart says:

    No need to project anything. Sonja B-C says so herself:

    “The journal’s editor, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, a reader in geography at the University of Hull, in England, says she sometimes publishes scientific papers challenging the view that global warming is a problem, because that position is often stifled in other outlets. “I’m following my political agenda — a bit, anyway,” she says. “But isn’t that the right of the editor?” “

  8. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Bart,
    I believe the quote is from this article:
    http://www.mail-archive.com/pen-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu/msg81458.html
    which makes very interesting reading. I may do a post on this, thanks again for the headsup.

  9. tallbloke says:

    Richard Tol says: 23 Feb 2011 at 3:22 AM

    For your information, I have published a few papers in E&E. All were peer-reviewed as usual. I have reviewed a few more for the journal.” – Richard S. J. Tol Ph.D. Professor of the Economics of Climate Change, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

  10. tallbloke says:

    The response from E&E has surfaced:

    see update to post.

    Since this was clearly an email addressed to Gavin, and it has made it into the wild, I expect their will now be a huge outcry saying it’s wrong to reveal Mr Hughes private communication.

    Lol.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Another testimonial, this from Craig Loehle:

    I have published at E&E and went through typical reviews. The only thing I can say is that they avoid reviewers who reject papers that are politically incorrect and instead review them on the merits, as should be the case.
    It is not good to become strident and hysterical in print…even on a blog…because people can read….

  12. tallbloke says:

    Hu McCulloch
    Submitted on 2011/02/25 at 8:13 am

    Re my comment above on 2/23 @ 10:31AM, I have had two articles published by E&E, both linked at http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/AGW/ .

    My “Irreproducible Results in Thompson et al. (PNAS 2006), ‘Abrupt Tropical Climate Change: Past and Present,’” Energy and Environment Vol, 20, No. 3 (April, 2009): 369-375 was published as a “Technical Communication”, and therefore not necessarily subject to the same reviewing as a regular article, by E&E’s rules.

    Nevertheless, it was sent out to a reviewer and revised in response to the comments, even though it might have counted as a paper that “follows the editor’s political line,” as Gavin put it. So this is one counter-example to his blanket assertion that E&E has “essentially dispensed with effective review” for such papers.

    The reviewer did express surprise that E&E did not send the paper to Thompson et al for reply. Given, as I had already indicated to E&E when I submitted the note, that I had previously e-mailed Thompson and most of his co-authors three times asking for clarification of the discrepancy I had found, with no reply at all, I doubt that they would have responded to E&E either, and perhaps E&E felt the same way. However, it would have been preferable, IMHO, if E&E had, just for the record, sent it to them in addition to (or even before) a reviewer. But if I’ve made an error, Thompson is still free to reply in E&E or elsewhere, and has not.

    In the second article, I was just the second author on a correction to an article originally by Craig Loehle, who as lead author communicated with the journal. He reports above,

    Craig Loehle says:
    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 am
    I have published at E&E and went through typical reviews. The only thing I can say is that they avoid reviewers who reject papers that are politically incorrect and instead review them on the merits, as should be the case.

    The correction, BTW, benefitted greatly from detailed “blog-review” comments by Gavin himself in a post on RC.