The egregious Pat Michaels makes the following claim:
In order to limit any bias caused by personal or philosophical animosity, the editor should remove your name from the paper and send it to other experts who have no apparent conflict of interest in reviewing your work. You and the reviewers should not know who each other are. This is called a “double blind” peer review.
Well, this is “the way it is supposed to be.” But in the intellectually inbred, filthy-rich world of climate science, where billions of dollars of government research money support trillions of dollars of government policy, peer review has become anything but that.
There is simply no “double blindness.” For reasons that remain mysterious, all the major climate journals leave the authors’ names on the manuscripts sent out for review.
Economists, psychologists and historians of science all tell us (and I am inclined to believe them) that we act within our rational self-interest. Removing the double-blind restriction in such an environment is an invitation for science abuse.
I can pretty much dismiss “inbred” and “filthy-rich” as completely out of touch with reality, but I’m not sure how to make the case to someone who believes otherwise.
But what about this “double blind” thing on peer review? I am pretty sure that this erasure of authorship doesn’t happen in computer science, for one. A little searching reveals this recent Nature article.
- Double-blind peer review, in which both authors and referees are anonymous, is apparently much revered, if not much practised.
- Although at least one study in the biomedical literature has suggested that double-blind peer review increases the quality of reviews, a larger study of seven medical journals2, 3 indicated that neither authors nor editors found significant difference in the quality of comments when both referees and authors were blinded. Referees could identify at least one of the authors on about 40% of the papers, undermining the raison d’être for double-blinding. The editors at the Public Library of Science abandoned double-blind peer review because too few requested it and authors were too readily identified.
- The double-blind approach is predicated on a culture in which manuscripts-in-progress are kept secret. This is true for the most part in the life sciences. But some physical sciences, such as high-energy physics, share preprints extensively through arXiv, an online repository. Thus, double-blind peer review is at odds with another ‘force for good’ in the academic world: the open sharing of information. The PRC survey found that highly competitive fields (such as neuroscience) or those with larger commercial or applied interests (such as materials science and chemical engineering) were the most enthusiastic about double-blinding, whereas fields with more of a tradition for openness (astronomy and mathematics) were decidedly less supportive.
On the other hand,
- The one bright light in favour of double-blind peer review is the measured reduction in bias against authors with female first names (shown in numerous studies, such as ref. 4).
But as for Michaels’ implication that double-blind review is common practice and that climate is somehow exceptional, that double blindness is a default which climate sciences have somehow conspired to reverse, it’s a complete fantasy, like most of what he purveys.