2011-03-23 11:21:53Improving the Peer Review Process


The whole process of publicising scientific papers seems to be in need of revision. It would be appropriate that the subect of Climate Change be the engine for that revision, considering the potential for harm it poses to our species. Complaints that people such as Lord Monckton continue to refer to material that they obviously know has been formally debunked are common in the comments sections of the posting to this site. It matters because the general public are in the main unaware of the debunking, so people such as Lord Monckton look as though they have a good case when they cite debunked material. If the public are convinced, it is obvious which way the politicians will vote.

Surely there has to be a way of forcing the retraction of debunked scientific papers, with some central register that the likes of Lord Monckton can access prior to any public presentation that might refer to same. It may need some kind of tribunal and penalties for knowingly referring to retracted material. It would cause a stir and lots of resistance, but even if it proves to be impractical, given sufficient public profile of the debate of the issue, especially if actual instances of obvious wrong doings are highlighted, then at least public awareness of the shenanigans of the likes of the Lords Monckton and Lawson in the Climate Change debate will be raised and their influence diminished.

To kick things off, I suggest that those individuals who carried out the peer review of the debunked paper be asked to read the supposed debunking paper and decide whether any part of the paper they reviewed is in fact debunked. If that is the case, they have to consider that the paper be withdrawn. A simple majority vote of the reviewers would lead to its retraction until revised so that it answers the debunking paper in such a manner that satisfies the reviewers.