This Copernicus journal thing is a mess. I think I’m most angry that the fiasco was probably preventable. I don’t have an opinion on the science other than ‘interesting’, as further than that I don’t feel qualified to comment, but the whole process and affair has been damaging to the extreme.
It brings up the whole pal-review/peer-review debate again. Jo Nova has a long post: Science is not done by peer or pal review, but by evidence and reason in which I heartily agree with the following statement:
When good scientists pal review good science, we can get better science. When poor scientists pal review poor science, we get a cheating loophole, though good editors ought to know that, and rebuttals can clean up mistakes. Pal review merely explains why some truly junky papers get put into supposedly eminent journals. My real problem is with scientists who make out that Peer Review is gospel while practicing bad pal-review. There is active deception in that contrast.
For what it’s worth I have good acquaintance who is editor of a small but respected science journal – in a very traditional applied science (nothing to do with climate). I asked him a while back about pal review. He is a sceptic but simply a scientist who was never wholly convinced by the science – even related to his field. He doesn’t follow the debate and is not an avid blog reader, so some of the finer points of climate pal-review were unknown to him. He was shocked.
His answer was that it happens a lot, yes – but when any good scientists review good science, we get better science. He said the issue should be with the integrity of the scientists – both the author and the reviewer. He said he sent papers to pals routinely, both as an author and an editor, but in his experience he trusted (in fact expected) his pals to tell him if his paper was rubbish, or if he had made an embarrassing error. For a good paper they (any reviewer) would improve it by constructive criticism, but if it was flawed or weak they wouldn’t hesitate if they needed to recommend rejection. I guess that’s the answer I expected in a non-controversial field where there is no commercial interest. It is also the answer I expected from a man of very high integrity both personally and as a scientist.
He made a good point that the pressure to publish as a means to justify grant money (and obtain more) had corrupted the system; it is no longer about having something worthy to say. That’s sad, but true. We need a different system.