PAGES2K Online “Journal Club”

I’m listening to a presentation by PAGES2K authors sponsored by Nature:

http://blogs.nature.com/ofschemesandmemes/2013/05/02/npg-journal-club-how-has-earths-climate-changed-in-the-past-2000-years-npgjclub#comment-1503

Started at 11 am Eastern.

11:30. Open for questions. I have submitted the following:

Can you explain the decision to label the article as only a “Progress Article”, rather than a Research Article?

Nature’s definition of Progress Articles http://www.nature.com/ngeo/authors/content_types.html says that such articles are “commissioned by the editors” and associates them with “fields that might not yet be mature enough for review”. It also states that such articles do not include received and accepted dates and places more restrictive word and display limits than full Research Articles:

“When the discussion is focused on a developing field that might not yet be mature enough for review, a Progress article is more appropriate. Progress articles are up to 2,000 words in length, with up to 4 display items (figures, tables or boxes). References are limited to 50. Reviews and Progress articles are commissioned by the editors, but proposals including a short synopsis are welcome. Reviews and Progress articles are always peer-reviewed to ensure factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly balance. They do not include received/accepted dates.”

Thousand-year paleoclimate reconstructions clearly do not qualify as a “developing field… not mature enough for review”. So why was this article classified as only a Progress Article?

Did Nature editors either commission the PAGES2K article or receive a short synopsis from the authors?

Given the above policy against received and accepted dates, why did Nature you include received and accepted such dates for the PAGES article?

Here is my surmise on the matter. The PAGES2K article presents eight different reconstructions using a variety of methods. Each individual reconstruction warranted separate peer review in specialist literature and it was impossible within the required time frame for peer reviewers to provide the peer review expected of a Research Article. As a way out of the review dilemma, one or more reviewers suggested that PAGES2K be published as a Progress Article, a recommendation that you adopted, even though the article did not fit within the definition. Can you comment on this surmise?


74 Comments

  1. AnonyMoose
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s inconsistent. Medieval Warm Period is not being used, so he hopes the term will go away. But Little Ice Age predates what they’ve been talking about and seems to not be going away. The LIA predates, but the older MWP doesn’t predate what we’re talking about?

  2. Bruce Stewart
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There is enough information on this site to support an argument that the field of thousand-year paleoclimate reconstructions is indeed “not mature enough for review.”

    • AnonyMoose
      Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed, but I assume that Steve was using Artistic License [with Nature minor].

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The charming moderator, Alicia Newton, published a high-resolution ocean core proxy together with Lowell Stott in 2006. She presented at the Union session at 2006 AGU on reconstructions.

  4. AnonyMoose
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Does the Google Plus view of the event give hints of how many unanswered questions appeared? I didn’t join, because I didn’t want to risk being associated with this train wreck.

  5. AnonyMoose
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, someone admitted there’s little data for the tropics.

  6. Skiphil
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    note: paper can be downloaded for free, today only it says on the site (requires registration):

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/full/ngeo1797.html

    I just did it, was quick and easy to get it.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One of the major untrue puffs about the PAGES2K reconstruction by Thorsten Kiefer and others was that the PAGES2K dataset provided a lot of new data about Southern Hemisphere. Kiefer said that this was a “major achievement of this reconstruction” That previously the SH situation was “bleak” but now they had data for South America and Australia. “Now we can fill with data.”

    But there are only six SOAMER and Australasian proxies that start before AD1200: Quelccaya d18O, Quelccaya accumulation, Ed Cook’s Mount Read (Tasmania) and Oroko (NZ) tree ring series, Laguna Aculeo pigments and Kim Cobb’s discontinuous coral series from Palmyra. The first four series are not “new” information: all four were used as long ago as MBH98. The only novelty of Neukom’s PAGES version is that he used both Quelccaya series upside down to Thompson’s interpretation. Kim Cobb’s Palmyra series – the most influential coral in the world – is also not “new” to this reconstruction, but originated in 2003, well before AR4 and has been used repeatedly in various studies. The only “new” SH series that is relevant to MWP-modern comparisons is Laguna Aculeo pigments, a data set that merits individual fisking. As too often, the result seems to rely on a form of proxy “pigments”, the properties of which are not widely studied and which seems rather ad hoc.

    Anyone who doubts this claim can inspect for themselves as follows:

    loc="http://www.climateaudit.info/data/multiproxy/pages2k/info_PAGES2K.CSV"
     x=read.csv(loc)
    x[(x$region=="Australasia"|x$region=="South America")&x$start<1200,]
    
    • P. pasten
      Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Laguna Aculeo looks like the South American YAD061.

      Steve: Not really.

      aculeo

      • Diogenes
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I am glad I was not alive at the time of that temperature crash circa 1400. But I would probably have survived because that is what hom sapiens does…it adapts to the prevailing climatic conditions, whether they are Ethiopian deserts or Arctic tundra.

    • P. pasten
      Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Plot together Laguna Aculeo vs. the South American reconstruction.

  8. pottereaton
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Heike Langenberg, Chief Editor, Nature Geoscience just responded to your comment Steve by saying, and I paraphrase, “basically, we can do whatever the hell we want to do.”

    • Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Exactly and deservedly so. The collaboration is on going and a progress article is entirely appropriate. New material is presented (see earlier posts here). In short she was very nice about this.

      • RomanM
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Eli, let me rephrase that for you:

        Exactly and deservedly blatantly so. The collaboration collusion is on going and a progress article is entirely appropriate effective. New Previously withdrawn material is presented resurrected (see earlier posts here). In short she was very nice arrogant about this.

  9. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I responded to her comment as follows:

    The term of your policy is “a developing field that might not yet be mature enough for review”. All fields are, in a trivial sense, “developing”. This issue, which you chose to misconstrue, was whether the field was “mature enough for review”. I submitted that it was “mature enough for review” and therefore ought to have been subject to the standards of review of a Research Article, rather then the lesser standards of a Progress Article.

    Otherwise, why would reviewers suggest (as seems evident) that it be published as a Progress Article, rather than a Research Article?

    • Posted May 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps the problem was that there was nobody left in the field, except yourself, to actually do the review.

      • Posted May 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Ha. The field that needed an upside-down Erdos number.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Mann, Jones and Briffa weren’t coauthors. Mann’s a harder reviewer than Briffa and Jones. Maybe Mann reviewed the rejected Science article and Briffa and/or Jones the Nature submission. Jones and Briffa were well aware that the article was required for IPCC.

        In general, I think that authors should be allowed to have their say provided the article is well documented for data and methods and the PAGES2K article has done a better-than-average job on data, though not as good as they think. In my limited experience, reviewers all too often simply try to impose their perspective and contribute very little.

        I don’t think that it is really possible for typical academic peer reviewers to perform actual due diligence on the eight different PAGES2K reconstructions using a variety of methods between December 2012 and January 2013.

        That doesn’t mean that the results are “WRONG”. However, I don’t see any reason why, for example, the Gergis reconstruction should be taken any more seriously because it was published as part of the PAGES2K collection. I don’t believe that any of the Nature peer reviewers turned their minds to the issues surrounding the Gergis reconstruction and provided specific reassurance to Nature editors about the Gergis reconstruction. It simply got included in a larger package that was needed for IPCC – something that was known both by Nature editors and reviewers and which affected the process.

        If any of the authors wish to contradict this speculation, they are free to do so. But I doubt that any will.

        • Skiphil
          Posted May 11, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

          see [27] where Gergis et al. is still listed as “in revision” with Journal of Climate (Phipps’ CV updated April 30, 2013):

          http://web.science.unsw.edu.au/~sjphipps/publications.html

          What is the scientific and ethical case for stringing this article along for just about one year now while slipping the Gergis recon. In via PAGES2K?

          It is just about ONE YEAR (May 17) since Gergis et al. launched this recon. upon the world public with so much fanfare and PR.

          Has the Gergis et al. recon. yet gone through a proper and successful validation??

        • Manniac
          Posted May 11, 2013 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

          J’accuse!

    • Tom Gray
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Is there a semantic issue here. Nature’s description of the nature of progress articles immediately follows the description of review articles. Does the term “review” then refer to “peer review” or to “review article”. From the context, it appears to me that it would apply to the latter. So a progress article is similar to a review article in that it summarizes a field but that that field is still a work in progress. From the description it would appear then that progress article is like a review article in that it is intended for a non-specialist audience. Would an article for non-specialists be suited for citation in an IPCC AR. It would appear to me that a citation to the original peer reviewed source would be required rather than some article intended to explain it to a lay audience.

      To me an article for non-specialists would significantly increase the requirement for rigor within the article. Specialists could be expected to understand the field and be able to place contentious statements within the issues without extensive explanation. Non-specialists could not be expected to do this and it would be incumbent on the authors to ensure that the non-specialist reader could identify such issues.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 10, 2013 at 3:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Tom wrote:

        Nature’s description of the nature of progress articles immediately follows the description of review articles. Does the term “review” then refer to “peer review” or to “review article”. From the context, it appears to me that it would apply to the latter.

        you’re right about the use of “review”. I had interpreted it differently. However, as pointed out subsequently, this isn’t any help to Nature.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I’m confused.

      Did the authors choose to submit it as a progress article?
      Did the editor decide? or do reviewers suggest it?

      I dunno. maybe she will answer a question.

      I mean it does matter. If the authors thought it was “article” quality, but editors said ‘no, this field belongs in progress” that is one thing. if the authors submitted as progress that is another thing.. and if reviewers said… “hmm, there are problems here, tell them to use the “progress” approach” then that would be another thing. I looked through back issues, “progress” isnt very common. It does seem a rather clever, tricky almost.

      it might be helpful to get her comment, if she would be so kind.

      • Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Pardon, but WHY does it matter? While Steve may enjoy throwing fits frankly after ten or more years it gets tiresome.

        • Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

          The question is why you feel the need to characterize Steve’s expressed concerns as ‘throwing a fit’. After ten or more years, has he become more influential than you and friends had planned? That must indeed be tiresome.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

          Eli

          “Pardon, but WHY does it matter?”

          Well, consider these cases and tell me if you can spot the concern.

          A) The editors commissioned it. well we know this is not true. so doesnt matter.
          B) The authors decided prior to submission that it should be a progress report.
          C) The reviewers read it, thought that it could not be published as an article, but suggested
          that it be handled as a Progress article.

          So, if its case B, then that is one thing. If its case C, then its quite another thing. That is, if an expert reviewer said… wait a minute.. this thing is not ready for prime time… I suggest another path..

          So, Eli, neither you nor I will ever know what the reviewers said. But clearly case B and case C are different. Would you agree or disagree? and why?

        • Don Monfort
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

          “That is, if an expert reviewer said… wait a minute.. this thing is not ready for prime time… I suggest another path..”

          Well, you could take your paper to one of those fly-by-night-pay-for-play journals and get your box checked. There is more than one way to make a mockery of the peer review system.

        • Jeff Norman
          Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

          But Don, that would validate all the others who had previously been kept out of the mainstrean journals by redefining peer review, you know, people published in E&E etc.

        • kim
          Posted May 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

          Even if I have to redefine ‘peer review’ as taking a good hard optical grade look at it.
          ==================

        • MikeN
          Posted May 18, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

          “Generally the level of hate you get is in proportion to the impact you have,” he said.”

          A Mr Cook.

    • John Ritson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Nature’s stated policy
      1. When the discussion is focused on a developing field that might not yet be mature enough for review, a Progress article is more appropriate.
      2. All our Progress, Review and Research articles are rigorously peer reviewed.
      Conclusion: Nature’s policy is to peer reviews articles in fields that are not yet mature enough to be reviewed.

      • Duster
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Which, as policies go, is more than a little baffling. Unless Nature is using “review” in at least two senses, the policy would be better in a Monte Python skit.

  10. Jim T
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If climate reconstructions are not yet ‘mature enough for review’, then why are there so many thousands of reviewed articles? It seems to me that it would follow that she is saying that any peer review for such an ‘immature’ field is … premature? of low utility? meaningless?

    So where does that put the high and mighty climate ‘scientists’ after all their boasting about how important peer review was?

    It seems to me she has, unintentionally or not, cut the legs out from anyone working in that field.

  11. Bebben
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One could be tempted to speculate who the reviewers were… probably not Steve M.

  12. TerryMN
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Progress articles are up to 2,000 words in length, with up to 4 display items (figures, tables or boxes).

    It also has a combined 5 tables and figures, and 3,670 words not including figure descriptions, but hey – who’s counting? :)

    • Posted May 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

      So, basically the only criteria for a “Progress Report” that were deemed applicable (and/or met) were, References: 50 and display items: 4 (sort of)

      Oh, well … Mike Hulme once declared that “the idea of climate change is so plastic …”. Perhaps he should have added “and elastic so that we can stretch anything whichever way we want whenever we want”.

      As for the rest of us peons … It seems that because climate scientists, such as Richard Betts and Oliver Bothe “trust the process” (as they have noted in comments on my posts) we’re just supposed to button our lips and keyboards.

      I suppose we are supposed to just “trust” whatever their “assessments” might be because, well … because they’re “climate scientists” and we’re not!

      And they wonder why they are having such difficulties “communicating” with the public!

    • Clark
      Posted May 9, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The length limits are never hard-and-fast. The bigger the ‘splash,’ the more one can exceed the length limits, regardless of field.

      When I review for Nature (not climate science), I find about half of the reviewers (we get to see all the reviews) do a superficial review. When this happens, they are typically reviewing how ‘significant’ the work is, not how scientifically sound it is. Interestingly, the journals a step down from Science and Nature have on average much more rigorous and consistent reviews.

      One thing that is definitely more true of Nature and Science than any other journal I’ve reviewed for is that the editor will override a critical review if the lead author is prominent enough. The sections editors for both journals will go to scientific meetings in their areas to scout out the ‘hottest’ findings.

      • populartechnology
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

        This comment is incredibly enlightening. Thank you.

    • Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The editors get to relax rules. For example one comment Eli submitted went well beyond the allotted space, but because of the technical nature and the need to explain the issue to readers who were not expert in the area, the editor allowed. The reply was neener neener. and no, it wasn’t that one, but they went neener neener anyhow.

      • Skiphil
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: “editors get to relax rules”

        Yup, at will, for good reasons or for bad reasons… Everyone who has followed some of these climate sagas is well aware of how editorial discretion has been used (and abused) to control “the message” — editors also get to alter, tighten, and/or make up new rules as they go along, especially when it comes to climate-gate-keeping in journals such as Nature, Science, PNAS, etc. For example,

        http://climateaudit.org/2010/01/05/climategatekeeping-the-nature-intervention/

        • Skiphil
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

          For one aspect of the sordid tales at thread I linked above, Nature editors kept changing their own rules and criteria on the fly, with the clear effect of keeping critical comment out of “the record” –

          …This seems to tie back to earlier actions by Nature. We submitted our revision on March 21, 2004 and a few days later were told to shorten the submission to 800 words. In the final decision, we were told that the decision was rendered on the basis of an allowance of 500 words ( a limit much lower than contemporary comments on Emanuel (2005) for example) as follows….

  13. PhilH
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Looks like they didn”t hide the pea very well this time.

  14. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I would have to agree with the responder to SteveM that paleoclimate reconstructions are not a mature science, but no doubt for very different reasons than the responder. I see its status as a progression to the point of making many false starts without anyone in the field seriously addressing that status in order to investigate some rather basic issues such as a priori bases for proxy selection. I personally think there might be some valuable and critical information to be obtained from some porperly designed reconstructions – if and only if the basic approach changes. Alternatively, properly designed experiments with proxies in attempts to provide a prior selection criteria might show conclusively that a particular proxy will never be capable of providing reasonably accurate historical temperatures.

    The responder implied that the reconstructions on other continents might be nailed down and that Africa remained to be explored before Pages2k. The Pages2k reconstruction and comments on Africa were not really a reconstruction but rather some comments and hand waving at data that the paper did not even appear to take very seriously.

    • Posted May 9, 2013 at 7:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It may not be a mature science in 2013, for the reasons you say, but in 2001 the IPCC promoted the Mann hockey stick to global prominence. So it’s a bit rich for the device of a Progress Article to be used to get this work over the line in time for AR5 – with all the other rules for such articles broken. Paraphrasing Hilary: And they wonder why they are having such difficulty maintaining the trust of the public.

      • ianl8888
        Posted May 10, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply


        And they wonder why they are having such difficulty maintaining the trust of the public

        I do not believe that “they” wonder at all about public trust. The MSM never publishes this stuff so it simply doesn’t exist as far as most people are concerned

        Some here, including me, may be appalled at the outright artifice in taking a rejected/withdrawn paper like Gergis et al and publishing it in the AR5 as “Progress” without the peer review stamp – but we comprise some 1% of the population. We simply don’t matter

        • Posted May 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

          I was thinking about this very point, all over again, a few moments ago on reading the BBC’s fascinating Turning a scandal into a ‘-gate’. It felt as if the writer was intent on leaving Climategate out but the stats from Collins meant he had to include it, all of which is rather fitting.

          Perhaps it was just that word that did it. But it would never have been applied had Steve and friends not sweated the small stuff. There’s a relationship between that 1% (or 0.01% or whatever) and the mass of the public which is impossible finally to describe. But in the end no man is an island, entire unto himself. Hmm, maybe someone did manage to express it :)

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 9, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Kenneth,
      the issue is not whether paleoclimate is a “mature science” or “developing field”, but whether it is “mature enough for review”. In typical climate science style, Heike Langenberg misquoted me. As I said at the nature blog, are fields are, in a trivial sense, “developing”. The issue is whether paleoclimate reconstructions are “mature enough for review”. Clearly they are.

      My position is that the PAGES2K article ought to have been reviewed on the basis that it was a Research Article and not been given the more cursory review of a Progress Article, since it was in fact a Research Article and not a Progress Article.

      The only conceivable rationale that I can think of to explain its classification as a Progress Article is that the reviewers felt that it was impossible to properly review it according to the standards of a Research Article. On an earlier occasion at Hilary’s blog, I expressed my surmise that the PAGES2K article had been rejected by Science because one or more of the reviewers felt that it was impossible to review eight different regional reconstructions using four different methods and that the individual reconstructions should be published in specialist literature. Otherwise, it’s hard to think up a reason why Science would have rejected an article being relied upon by IPCC and with so many authors.

      As I mentioned at Hilary’s, it looks to me like there’s an interesting backstory here.

      • pottereaton
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The issue is whether paleoclimate reconstructions are “mature enough for review”. Clearly they are.

        Agreed. It seems to me that they are conflating the methodology, which is clearly “mature,” and in widespread use, with the territorial range of previous studies which is, simply, incomplete. Perhaps you can phrase it better than I can, Steve, but it seems to me these people tend to misuse the language whenever it suits their purposes.

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

        SteveM, I do understand your point and the deeper meaning of what the classification might have skirted. I just had to get my 2 cents in about in a more perfect world many of these reconstruction attempts might not be considered mature or ready for publication. Given what has transpired in the field such a paper is reviewable. The rejection by Science is telling and key to your question.

        The replies that you obtain with your queries can also be revealing. The responder was obviously intending to appear very innocent of any gaming of the process -very Stokean I thought.

      • Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

        As I mentioned at Hilary’s, it looks to me like there’s an interesting backstory here.

        You may need to employ the new HTML5 <speculation> tag, Steve, to help Met Office intellects spot the difference with earlier fact-based discussion.

        For those outside the climate bubble it’s blindingly obvious something untoward went on.

        Steve: The fact that the article was weakly reviewed does not mean that the results are therefore “WRONG”. The authors themselves worked diligently on the article. In general, I think that authors should be allowed to have their say provided that they provide data and clear methodology and that reviewers too often merely try to shoehorn their perspective into the article. It is evident to me that the reviewers were aware of IPCC’s interest in the article and that there must have been considerable concern on the article’s fate once Science had (surprisingly) rejected it.

        Steve: typo corrected in above inline comment.

        • schnoerkelman
          Posted May 10, 2013 at 4:35 AM | Permalink

          A minor editing issue in Steve’s VOG reply that I think he ought to consider fixing to avoid having the mistake being taken out of context and repeated:

          The fact that the article was weakly reviewed mean that the results are therefore “WRONG”.

          Should be “does not mean that the results are wrong”

          Steve: thanks. fixed.

        • Posted May 10, 2013 at 4:53 AM | Permalink

          Steve, you intend I’m sure to say does not mean in the first sentence.

          I do take all these points – especially that

          authors should be allowed to have their say provided that they provide data and clear methodology …

          I completely agree because it’s the review papers receive post-publishing that most matters. The different regions should have been published separately and clear methodology for me entails code.

          When I say something untoward went on it could be partly in the fact that “Science had (surprisingly) rejected it”. I also assume Clark knows what he’s talking about on length limits. But it still bothers me that they dressed it up as a Progress Article when it clearly wasn’t. The backstory should be told, sans spin.

      • Nicholas
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

        You have previously referred to studies which simply throw a bunch of proxies into some algorithm without regard to exactly what is going on inside it as “Mannian garbage cans”. Can we therefore characterise PAGES2K as a “dumpster” study on the basis that it does little more than toss a number of other studies (which may or may not be “garbage cans”) into some larger container and leaves the resulting mess for the reader to sort out? :)

  15. Posted May 9, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So I went to the “Hangout” and watched the “replay” … Well, truth be told, for the most part, I half-listened and occasionally watched while doing other things.

    FWIW, my overall impression (I was listening/watching with my “total newbie” Uninformed Lay Person (ULP) model simulation ears/eyes!) is that PAGES2K found some magic way of comparing apples, oranges, nuts and bolts from around the world (with the exception of the Tropics) … notwithstanding a lot of uncertainties (some of which, as I recall, were described as “huge” and therefore required more research).

    I was somewhat puzzled regarding the charts and figures they called up, with some numbers that were quite in excess of the permitted “4″ that were found in the version of the paper that I had read.

    But the best part of this work, according to one PAGES2K person, is that they’ve made data available – “in good order and homogenized” (whatever that’s supposed to mean to a ULP!) And Gavin agreed that this is a good thing!

    Speaking of Gavin … at one point, he stated that he didn’t think terms such as “Medieval period” or “Little Ice Age” or “early Holocene” were “helpful”. Although he didn’t say why. Or if he did, I missed the explanation! And, having heard of the neologistic “Anthropocene”, I would like to have asked him if he believed that this term was as “unhelpful” as those he had listed!

    Considering all the fuss that has been made about the purported perils of (human-generated, as opposed to naturally occurring) C02. I was somewhat surprised that no mention was made of this. But I might have missed it!

    However, the biggest question in my mind (having done a little bit of reading about the IPCC;-)) was, “What is so earth-shattering in the content of this Progress Report, that it just had to meet the IPCC’s deadline”?!

  16. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 4:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    After this stage comes the realisation that the standard of the work is quite questionable. As Steve notes, only a little is about Australia per se and within that there are severe problems of calibration because instrumental temperatures are so poor, when used.

    On the political side, here is an email I sent to the Dept of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency in August 2012. I have yet to receive an answer from a person (they come back from the un-named Climate Change Science Team) and a satisfactory response:

    Might the people of the ‘Climate Change Science Team’ please identify themselves so that some estimate of standing can be obtained?
    As you note, ‘The Department is aware that the publication of this manuscript was put on hold by the project leaders after the identification of an issue in the processing of the data used in the study. The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens scientific conclusions and is a normal part of the scientific process. The researchers are currently reviewing the data and results and will resubmit the paper to the journal for peer review.’
    This publication was withdrawn then in another form, with significant changes, resubmitted. Although it was resubmitted after the closing date for publications that can be quoted in the IPCC AR5 (July 20 2012), it is appearing in IPCC drafts, which appear in some way to attribute authorship to the PAGES 2K group – one reconstruction is
    ‘PAGES 2k Network Writing WorkshopDates:
    14.05 – 18.05.12
    Place:
    Bern, Switzerland The first priority of the 2k consortium is the generation of temperature reconstructions for each of the nine 2k regions. IPCC showed interest in this effort and encouraged the 2k consortium to prepare a synthesis paper in time for potential use in AR5 (i.e. submission before 20 July 2012). To meet this deadline, the 2k groups have made a tremendous effort during the last months to collect temperature data and produce new multi-proxy regional temperature series using state-of-the-art reconstruction methods.As small writing team will meet in Bern to assemble those reconstructions and prepare a manuscript draft. The paper will be reviewed and authored by all 2k members under the pseudonym “PAGES 2k consortium” and submitted to a scientific journal.’

    ‘-“PAGES 2k consortium” uses (in the May draft) the original graph from Gergis et al (with the paper status “in press”)
    -Gergis et al is “put on hold” (beginning of June), which still allows “PAGES 2k consortium” to cite the original manuscript when the final submission (to Science) is done (before July 20)
    -after “PAGES 2k consortium” submission, Gergis et al is officially withdrawn
    -Gergis et al is resubmitted (in September?)
    -when the “PAGES 2k consortium” paper comes back from the review (around this time or later I would guess), the citation is changed to the new Gergis et al submission’

    If the paper is not authored by the recipients of the grant, but by another (even related) group, it raises again my original question. If a grant leads to a non-paper, does the grant money have to be refunded? There seem to grounds to allege dubious manipulations of public funds and the public would, I suspect, like an explanation. It often does.

    Regards Geoff Sherrington.

    • Skiphil
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

      This is a valuable (though saccharine) statement which implies more than these bureaucrats of science wish to acknowledge:

      [emphasis added]

      “The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens scientific conclusions and is a normal part of the scientific process”

      The crucial point, which the bland missive from DCCEE fails to acknowledge, was that such “testing” and “independent analysis of data and methods” was performed HERE at Climate Audit, by Jean S and Steve M, et al. Once again the CliSci world borrows from work and ideas provided at ClimateAudit.org without proper acknowledgement and credit!

  17. MarkB
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “Did Nature editors either commission the PAGES2K article or receive a short synopsis from the authors?”

    Was this specific question answered?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

      See http://blogs.nature.com/ofschemesandmemes/2013/05/02/npg-journal-club-how-has-earths-climate-changed-in-the-past-2000-years-npgjclub

      She said:

      Progress articles are usually commissioned by the editors, but as stated on our website, we welcome suggestions from potential authors. These come ideally in the form of a brief synopsis, but of course we also consider full submissions.

      Heike Langenberg was discussed at CA here http://climateaudit.org/2010/01/05/climategatekeeping-the-nature-intervention/ in connection with the review of our submission to Nature on MBH98 in 2004. She asked Phil Jones to review a paper at almost exactly the same time that a third and very adverse reviewer was added to the review of our submission – which had received favorable reviews from reviewers subsequently identified as Jolliffe and Zorita.

      • MarkB
        Posted May 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

        So she doesn’t state whether the article was commissioned or was based on a proposal.

        A ‘suggestion’ and a finished paper seem to me to be different animals. One doesn’t propose to write a paper one day, and send in a finished manuscript the next. A Proposal is submitted to get the go-ahead to do the work. There’s certainly no hint in the paragraph quoted above that authors can simply submit manuscripts of ‘progress articles’ in the standard way. “Of course” sounds post-hoc-y to me.

      • Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Speaking of Langenberg and Jones … I noticed that her “last words” to you [May 9] were:

        All our Progress, Review and Research articles are rigorously peer reviewed. There are no “lesser standards”.

        Unless Langenberg and other editors have collectively … uh … redefined “rigorously”, it is difficult to imagine that they will be using Poor Phil as a peer-reviewer.

        After all, in order to keep the peer review process humming”, as we learned from CG2, Jones had declared:

        If you accede to this request the whole peer-review process goes down the tubes.

        [...]

        The whole system would grind to a halt. I’ve never requested data/codes to do a review and I don’t think others should either. I do many of my reviews on travel. I have a feel for whether something is wrong – call it intuition. If analyses don’t seem right, look right or feel right, I say so. [emphasis added -hro]

  18. MikeN
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This has some similarity to Wahl and Ammann with team pushing Steve Schneider to deliver a paper for AR4.

  19. Frank
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The full context of the instructions to authors appears more damaging that the sections Steve excerpts. “Progress articles” are REVIEWS of topics or areas that haven’t developed enough to warrant a full review with 50-100 citations. News and Views articles review one or a few new papers and place them in context. None of these formats is appropriate for new material New reconstructions should be published as separate peer reviewed letters or articles before before being placed in a global context by a review article.

    Primary Research Formats:

    Letter: [description]
    Article: [description]

    Other Formats

    Review:
    A Review is an authoritative, balanced survey of recent developments in a research field. Although reviews should be recognized as scholarly by specialists in the field, they should be written with a view to informing nonspecialist readers. Thus, reviews should be presented using simple prose, avoiding excessive jargon and technical detail. Reviews are approximately 3,000—4,000 words and typically include 4—6 display items (figures, tables or boxes). References are limited to 100; citations should be selective. Footnotes are not used. The scope of a Review should be broad enough that it is not dominated by the work of a single research institution, and particularly not by the authors’ own work.

    Progress:
    When the discussion is focused on a developing field that might not yet be mature enough for review, a Progress article is more appropriate. Progress articles are up to 2,000 words in length, with up to 4 display items (figures, tables or boxes). References are limited to 50.
    Reviews and Progress articles are commissioned by the editors, but proposals including a short synopsis are welcome.
    Reviews and Progress articles are always peer-reviewed to ensure factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly balance.

    News and Views:

    News and Views articles inform readers about the latest advances in the geosciences, as reported in recently published papers (in Nature Geoscience or elsewhere) or at scientific meetings. Most articles are commissioned, but proposals can be made to the Editor in advance of publication of the paper or well before the meeting is held. News and Views articles are not peer-reviewed, but undergo editing in consultation with the author.

    Correspondence: [description]
    Commentary: [description]
    Books and Arts: [description]

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Frank,
      Why then, is half-finished work being let into the IPCC process, with its policy ramifications? Surely international decisions should be made on the best reviewed, most comprehensive and (above all) the most concluded work available?

      • Frank
        Posted May 11, 2013 at 4:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Geoff: I meant to say: The full context of the instructions to authors appears more damaging THAN the sections Steve excerpts. Original research like these reconstructions did not meet the qualifications published as a progress report. Context demonstrates that progress reports were intended to be a type of review article covering a topic with a limited set of research papers, not “work in progress”. Being a summary of published work, such articles only needed to be peer-reviewed for factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly, but not appropriate methodology and conclusions.

        As for the IPCC, I don’t think that any unpublished article should be used. Peer review is no guarantee that a paper represents science suitable for being presented to policymakers. Science advances when the entire community reads an important paper, the work is confirmed or supported by related studies and no one challenges that work. If the IPCC waited for three months or even a year after publication (and considered drafts of replies or comments that might challenge a paper), their reports would be improved. The rush to cite everyone’s most recent paper and include late-breaking work which isn’t publicly available is unsound.

  20. bmcburney
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Aren’t we back to “redefining what the peer-review literature is”?

    The team can’t get something through peer review in time for the next AR so they publish in “Nature” via a “progress article.” How is that different than the citations to advocacy journals regarding Himalayan glacier melt that found their way into the previous AR? I know its “Nature” but if its not peer reviewed and “Nature” is bending rules to support the “cause” why should they be treated with more respect than any other advocacy mag?

  21. geo
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The question that occurred to me in reading the above, that I’m sure others here know the answer to, but I do not, is whether Nature has previously published paleoclimate reconstructions as other than “progress”. I simply haven’t bothered to “keep score” by journal, tho I’m sure others have.

    Nature does not have an iron-bound responsibility to have the same opinion of paleoclimatology as other journals.

    If the suspicion here is hypocrisy driven by expedience, then it needs to be in the context of Nature’s own previous standards in this sub-field, and not in terms of what other journals have done.

  22. KNR
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bottom line , in the name of ‘the cause’ are things are justifed .

  23. Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bottom lines,

    1. anyone can suggest to the editors of Nature that they would like to submit a Review or Progress Article (go get em Steve, and if you are lucky you can be turned down and throw a Pielke Jr. class fit), but it only gets considered IF the editors agree and commission the article. Solicitation (by your) and commission (by the editors) are separate. The article, like this one, also have to go through review, and the editors choose the referees not those who comment on Climate Audit.

    2. There are any number of review articles about paleoclimate reconstructions, hell, you can even google it.

    3. review articles summarize work in a mature area, generally at a less technical level than the underlying literature (see the Nature description) and encompass a critical survey of work in the area and should not concentrate on the authors’ work. Now some, not Eli to be sure might think that is a good description of the IPCC reports (which are both peer and clown reviewed), but it is not a good description of the Pages2K Consortium progress article.

    4. the Pages2K Consortium progress article WAS peer reviewed.

    5. The Pages 2K Progress Article reported progress on ongoing work by a consortium of experts which integrated their work and the work of others. People here appear to have a problem with that.

    6. The bottom line objection here appears to be that some, not Eli to be sure, do not believe that this paper should have been published at this time because that means that it can be considered by the IPCC for their next report. Tant Pis

    • TerryMN
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Keep carrying that water, Josh.

    • Will J. Richardson
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I had forgotten Halpern’s talent for petulance.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Eli

      “6. The bottom line objection here appears to be that some, not Eli to be sure, do not believe that this paper should have been published at this time because that means that it can be considered by the IPCC for their next report. Tant Pis”

      Let’s speculate. Suppose it was the reviewers who thought that the paper should not be published as an article, but rather as a Progress review. In short, suppose the reviewers thought it didnt pass muster an an article, but thought it was “good enough” for a progress article..

      Would that be important to know?

      • Posted May 19, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

        WTF is a Progress Review? Seriously, you mean a Review Article. No way it qualifies as a Review Article. see above

  24. Ben
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Apparently not all Progress Article criteria are created equal

    Compare

    http://www.nature.com/nnano/authors/article_types/index.html
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/authors/content_types.html

  25. Ben
    Posted May 20, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As of May 2013, Nature has updated their reporting requirements.

    http://www.nature.com/authors/policies/availability.html

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] McIntyre has a hilarious post on the desperate measures needed to get some non peer reviewed papers into the IPCC’s AR5. I […]

  2. By The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 2517 on May 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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