Phil. Trans. B

I have some happier news to report from Phil Trans B, which, unlike the International Journal of Climatology, has a data policy and takes it seriously. Phil Trans B is a science journal published by the Royal Society as opposed to a climate science journal published by the Royal Meteorological Society.

Last summer, I reported that I had requested that Briffa archive data for Briffa et al 2008, pursuant to policies of Phil Trans B. I received a cordial note at the time from the editor that they took their policies seriously and would follow up on it. They responded cordially when I followed up on several occasions and said that they were working on it (and, given that they were dealing with core Team members, this is no small undertaking) and hoped to have the data by the end of the year.

A couple of days ago, I was notified by Phil Trans B that the first installment (Scandinavian data) was online here and that the authors had undertaken to have the balance online “in the New Year”.

All in all, a very professional response from Phil Trans B, placing the surly response from International Journal of Climatology in rather stark contrast and perhaps highlighting rather neatly the questionable data standards that are deemed acceptable by the Royal Meteorological Society and some climate scientists.

I’ve done a quick look at the data available so far: there are spline and RCS chronologies, which appear to match the figure, and measurement data for Tornetrask/Finland combined. I’ll discuss the data on another occasion.


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    As a point of curiosity, the data archive includes some station data, including data from a couple of stations that we’ve discussed here recently: Ojmjakon and Verhojansk. Reported to 1991 and 1994 respectively. This is from the same folks that bring you the CRU data set. Perhaps they spend as much time on QC of station data as GISS.

  2. Clark
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    Kudos to the Royal Society individuals running the journal. If journals more uniformly enforced such policy, we could dispense with all this nonsense stonewalling and FOI requests.

    On a side note, I am curious to see what you find. Were they hiding the data out of just plain spite, or were they hiding some real problems?

  3. MarkB
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    I think it was Samuel Clemens who said “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

    There’s an obvious corollary here for scientists: if you do your work properly, there’s no need to withhold anything. If someone finds an honest error, you can thank them and move on, and no one will think the less of you.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    I think that the withholding is usually a combination of spite, precaution and prima donna-ishness. It will take a while to analyze the data as they’ve merged the Tornetrask and Finland data. The Finnish data is from many different sites and has been selected from larger data sets: is there bias in the selection – who knows? It will take quite a bit of work to find out. I’ll try to make some data collations as I’m quick at that and make the data available to readers for experimenting.

    I’d like to check whether there is any bias in the locations – some fossil data comes from north of the present treeline: what effect if any does this have?

  5. henry
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Now that Phil. Trans. B is requiring authors to archive data, are there any old papers by the team in this journal?

    Any other old data that we’ve been looking for?

    The sad part of this might very well be that the climate scientists will no longer see or use Phil. Trans. B as a “peer reviewed journal”.

    Expect the submissions to IJC to increase, though…

  6. Edward
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    RE: Henry #5
    Here is a link to a search engine on Phil. Trans. B (Royal Society Publishing) where you can search on what has been published.

    I did a very quick couple of searches and found the following that may be of interest:

    Recent changes in solar outputs and the global mean surface temperature, Mike Lockwood June 08, 2008

    Climate change and trace gases, James Hansen1, Makiko Sato1, Pushker Kharecha1, Gary Russell1, David W. Lea2, Mark Siddall3 July 15, 2007

    Atmospheric aerosols versus greenhouse gases in the twenty-first century, Meinrat O. Andreae1 July 15, 2007

    Ensemble climate predictions using climate models and observational constraints, Peter A. Stott1, Chris E. Forest2 August 15, 2007

    There are plenty more. Just put in Climate and CO2 and there are 216 publications that pop up including “The Met Office Hadley Centre climate modelling capability: the competing requirements for improved resolution, complexity and dealing with uncertainty”

  7. Jim
    Posted Dec 30, 2008 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Re: #5

    About the journal pecking order

    Phil trans of Roy Soc was founded in 1661. So this is definitely
    an “old money” journal. They have an impact factor of 5.5.
    Publications of papers in old-money high impact factor journals
    is part of the academic rat race. Scientists will generally want
    to publish stuff in journals like this, it is reasonably influential
    when applying for grants. So when the editor says jump, most
    scientists will do so if they want to keep publishing in the
    journal. The editor here carries quite a big stick.

    The IJC has an impact factor of 2.3. This is OK, but nothing special.
    Publication in IJC counts as another notch on the gun belt. There
    is nothing special about publishing here, if you are part of the
    rat race, it is expected you would regularly publish articles in
    a journal with this impact factor as a matter of course. When
    applying for grants, a publication in Phil.Trans. is much better
    that IJC.

    The PNAS comment (I know it is in another thread) is up there.
    PNAS has an impact factor of 9.something (only science or
    nature are higher in the field). Publication there is a big
    deal, but it is also a big deal if someone craps all over
    you at PNAS.

  8. Paul Maynard
    Posted Jan 2, 2009 at 5:48 AM | Permalink

    This is very interesting as of course the Royal Society itself is fully paid up on MMAGW as are all the other Royal Societies. Strange how the two can live together.

    Paul Maynard

  9. per
    Posted Jan 2, 2009 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    re: pecking order
    from isi web of science, 2007
    Proc Roy Soc B 4.112
    Int J Climatol 2.610
    PNAS 9.598

    so the difference between ijc and roy soc b is not that large

  10. jim
    Posted Jan 4, 2009 at 1:01 AM | Permalink

    Re: 10

    There are proceedings of the roy soc. and phil. trans. of the roy
    soc. phil. trans. rates higher. And, a difference of 1.5, from
    2.6 to 4.1 does indicate a ratchet up of about 1/2 notch in the
    status/prestige of the journal.


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