one honorable, two less (?)

Dr Wolfgang Wagner have done the honorable thing: step down from his position as Editor-in-Chief ofRemote Sensing, the journal that published « On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-161

Since its publication in July, the paper steered a lot of discussion over the interwebs.

From Richard Black‘s nice (short and on focus) overview of the subject at BBC’s Science & Environment section.

The paper, published in July, was swiftly attacked by scientists in the mainstream of climate research.

They also commented on the fact that the paper was not published in a journal that routinely deals with climate change. Remote Sensing’s core topic is methods for monitoring aspects of the Earth from space.

Publishing in « off-topic » journals is generally frowned on in scientific circles, partly because editors may lack the specialist knowledge and contacts needed to run a thorough peer review process.

In essence, Dr Wagner, a professor of remote sensing at Vienna University of Technology, is blaming himself for this failing.

But he also blames the researchers themselves for not referencing all the relevant research in their manuscript.

The characteristics of the case reminds me of another case which was much less commented, as the issue doesn’t concern a sensible subject with the general public. That doesn’t mean that the editors-in-chief of the two journal concerned (#1, #2) bear less responsibility and that their lack of reaction doesn’t give the appearance of incompetence.

But then, there are still people who consider science to be a matter of opinions, it is not ;-).

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