American Thinker has the story of an absolutely conclusive case of academic misconduct at International Journal of Climatology. Here’s the short version:

  1. One group of authors writes a paper that is critical of some existing work in climate research. The paper is accepted for publication after the usual peer-review process.
  2. A second group of authors (led by researchers at the Hadley CRU, of course) obtains the paper’s page proofs before it is published. They plot to discredit it. They don’t want merely to submit a comment, because then the paper’s authors would get a chance to respond.
  3. The second group colludes with the journal’s editor to delay the paper’s print publication until a response paper can be published. As a full paper, rather than a comment, the first group would not get to respond.
  4. The editor takes unusual steps to speed the response paper through the peer-review process. Most significantly, he removes a “cranky” referee who raised issues with the paper.
  5. An author from the first group learns of the response paper and asks for an advance copy. Astonishingly, the second group refuses to send him a copy!
  6. Both papers appear in the same issue of the journal. The first paper waited over 11 months after being published on-line; the second waited for just 36 days.

The story is fully documented by emails from the Hadley leak. Here are three key quotes. The offer:

He also said (and please treat this in confidence, which is why I emailed to you and Phil only) that he may be able to hold back the hardcopy (i.e. the print/paper version) appearance of Douglass et al., possibly so that any accepted Santer et al. comment could appear alongside it.

Admission of wrong:

the only thing I didn’t want to make more generally known was the suggestion that print publication of Douglass et al. might be delayed… all other aspects of this discussion are unrestricted

A referee is dropped:

As you’ll see, Reviewer 1 was very happy with the revisions we’ve made to the paper. Reviewer 2 was somewhat crankier. The good news is that the editor (Glenn McGregor) will not send the paper back to Reviewer 2, and is requesting only minor changes in response to the Reviewer’s comments.

Absolutely appalling.

(Via Volokh.) (Previous post.)

UPDATE: This story from Richard Lindzen (who is very well-regarded, despite being a skeptic) makes me wonder if this sort of misconduct might have been common:

When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an “Iris Effect,” wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2. Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as “discredited.”


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