Friday, 6 June 2014

Strange response from Environmental Research Letters on Cook et al's 97% paper


 
"I read the study by Cook et al with great interest (1).  Firstly the study used levels of endorsement of global warming as outlined in their Table 2, however I can see no mention as to how these levels were created and how reliable they were in terms of both inter-rater and intra-rater reliability (Cohen’s kappa); would it be possible for the authors to clarify?  Secondly the authors ‘simplified the analysis’ by breaking down ratings into three groups, however they have not included the data breaking down the results into the original 7 categories: would it be possible to see this data?  Finally the study showed that 62.7% of all papers endorsed the consensus, but it does not mention how what proportion of these studies actually provided primary evidence to support the consensus: did the authors gather this information? 

1.                  Cook J et al. Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2013) 024024. "
 
I wrote the above letter to ERL and received the following response:
 
"We regret to inform you that the Board Member has recommended that your article should not be published in the journal, for the reasons given in the enclosed report. Your manuscript has therefore been withdrawn from consideration."
 
The Board member states:
 
"The "methodological queries" is not a manuscript suited for publication at all, it simply is a set of questions to the authors of Cook et al. I would advise the author to pose these questions directly to John Cook, as is the normal procedure if someone has further questions about a publication - the corresponding author's contact address is provided with each paper on ERL."
 
I have sent the following response back to the Journal outlining why I feel the response from their Board member is grossly inadequate:
 
"I appreciate your response however the referee's comments are grossly inadequate in my opinion and I would like to request that my letter be reviewed by another reviewer who is independent to the Journal.
 
My questions relate to significant methodological flaws in the study by Cook and it is perfectly acceptable to submit this as a letter, so that such methodological flaws are discussed openly in a public forum.
 
I have written to several Journals and had several similar letters published in the past, I have never heard of this excuse for rejecting a submission.
 
Of note the reviewer did not even comment on the validity of my methodological questions, something I find rather strange.
 
I would appreciate a swift response to this letter"
 
This whole things appears rather fishy.  I have also emailed John Cook to see if he can answer my questions, for some reason I suspect I shall receive nothing back from him.  It is 'normal procedure' for many many scientific Journals to publish letters such as mine, which outline methodological concerns, so that this can be discussed openly and any problems with the study are noted in the public domain.  For some reason this ERL Board member doesn't want concerns about Cook's paper to be aired in public, can't imagine why?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It isn't normal for a journal to publish a list of questions. Where did you get that idea?

Doctor Zorro said...

Actually I think it is you know.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in certain practitioner focused journals in some fields but certainly not in research led environmental journals.

Anonymous said...

Cook and his university do not wish anyone to see or use the data as they have threatened a law suit against anyone trying to do so.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/15/university-of-queensland-threatens-lawsuit-over-use-of-cooks-97-consensus-data-for-a-scientific-rebuttal/

If data isn't made available for purposes of experimental/methodological replication and confirmation by the public, then it is not science but rather pseudoscience IMO.

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