Sunday, January 29, 2012

Above all, do not quote me!

Scam-o-Rama has birthed a new cottage industy, the make believe conference where you send your registration fee to a mailbox somewhere in Soho. Climate change is a favorite topic, and here at least the denialists are correct, these conferences are a fraud, so Eli was wondering who was doing what with which to whom when someone muttered into his mailbox wouldn't he like to show up at the next EGU where Vincent Courtillot would receive the Arthur Holmes medal.

The Arthur Holmes medal for excellence in Solid Earth Geosciences, is one of the most, if not the most prestigious award of the EGU, honoring, wouldn't you know it, Arthur Holmes, a British geologist who was among the first to use radio dating to figure out the age of the Earth, figure out the mechanism for continental drift and much else. It is an honor

Vincent Courtillot, well not so much. Not that Dr. Courtillot did not make significant contributions to Solid Earth Geosciences. Like some, Courtillot, an expert in paleomagnetism, is a contrarian who favors vulcanism as a cause of mass extinctions and rejects the idea that humans are changing the climate. But, he had a bit of another problem, well, let Eli simply say that many people have a lot of issues with honoring the fellow.

Scientists at the Institute of Geophysics in Paris (IPGP) have been accused of acting as editors for dozens of papers by IPGP colleagues published from 1992 to 2008 in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters while they were members of the editorial board. The allegations follow a joint investigation by science journalists at the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération.

Among the authors of the articles involved is Claude Allègre, a former research and education minister in the French government and former IPGP head, whom French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been rumoured to be wooing to take up a ministerial position; and Vincent Courtillot, the institute's current head and a member of the journal's editorial board from 2003 to 2005.

Courtillot has dismissed the allegations, pointing out in Le Monde that all editors of papers submitted to the journal by the IPGP were openly identified. Allègre has described the allegations as "ridiculous". But Friso Veenstra, publisher of the Elsevier journal, maintains that reviewing papers from one's own institution runs against the journal's ethics policy.
The original accusation broke in 2008 in Le Monde (Google translation with some edits see below for original)
For several months a sulphurous document has been circulating in the Earth Science community. And while many are willing to comment in harsh terms, they almost always end by saying: "Above all, do not quote me! » "

The case is poisonous. And the mysterious ravens that triggered it remain in the shadows, hoping that the scandal will break. It accuses some of the greatest French geologists, Claude Allegre and his protectors, as it is rumored that the geochemist is again a candidate for a ministerial post.

What is it? One hundred pages. For the simple guy, this is a compilation of research articles published between 1992 and 2008 in one of the most prestigious journals in earth sciences, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL), published by the giant Anglo-Dutch scientific publisher Elsevier.

The problem? The selected papers, have in common that they have been written by researchers from one of the jewels of French research, the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris (IPGP). All have been accepted for publication by scientists who were both members of the same IPGP and the editorial board of EPSL. Judges and partly so.

To understand, you should know that EPSL works around a self perpetuating committee of seven prominent researchers, all with the rank of chief editor. Each volunteer spends part of his time to receive and evaluate manuscripts and decides whether or not to publish without having to consult the others.

However, in case of potential conflict of interest (same institution, recent collaboration, etc.). with authors who submit their work for evaluation, the editor must withdraw in favor of another member of the editorial board of the journal . These precautions are cardinal rules because research units and researchers are evaluated by their peers and supervisors by the number of articles published and prestige of the journals that accept them.

Despite these, the three researchers at IPGP who have successively served on the editorial board of EPSL - Paul Tapponnier (1992-1996), Vincent Courtillot (2003-2005) and Claude Jaupart (2006-2008) - have all accepted, approved and agreed to publish work from their institute.

His forays into climate issues stirred the pot, with over 400 climate scientists having written to the French Minister of Research calling on her to disown Courtillot and his pal Claude Allegre's attacks on them.

Eli hears that Courtillot had been repeatedly nominated for the Holmes Medal starting in 2008, but opposition to him based on the scandal revealed by Le Monde (the response was no harm, but Elsevier had done a bit of citation research showing that there was some harm as well as the obvious ethical issues, follow the links). However, Vincent Courtillot has champions on the various EGU medal committees, and they kept his name in play.

This year, again Eli hears, they played hide the cheese, the Holmes Medal Award committee not providing the required notice to the before sending their report to the EGU council and the council not remembering or googling the problem. As a matter of fact, when the issue was raised, the good Sgt. Schultz showed up

Chinaware is crashing, teeth are being bared, with high ranking EGU members resigning and threatening a lively plenary meeting where the current members of the council ask approval of their stewardship of the organization.

Oh yes, Eli also hears that there is cognitive dissonance** in the list of all of the 2012 EGU awardees, but that would be telling.

Award Committee has a sense of humor: The 2008 winner was Anthony Watts. Nonono, not our Tony

Collection of links to original material and commentary from David Smythe

Original from Le Monde
Depuis plusieurs mois, un document sulfureux circule dans la communauté des sciences de la Terre. Et si beaucoup acceptent de le commenter en termes acerbes, c'est presque toujours pour finir par préciser : « Surtout, vous ne me citez pas ! »

L'affaire est empoisonnée. Le ou les mystérieux corbeaux qui l'ont déclenchée restent dans l'ombre, espérant que le scandale éclate. Il vise certains des plus grands géologues français. Dont Claude Allègre et sa garde rapprochée, au moment où il se murmure que le géochimiste est à nouveau candidat à un poste ministériel.

De quoi s'agit-il ? D'un document d'une centaine de pages. Pour le béotien, ce n'est qu'une compilation d'articles de recherche, publiés entre 1992 et 2008 dans l'une des plus prestigieuses revues de sciences de la Terre, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL), éditée par le géant anglo-néerlandais de l'édition scientifique Elsevier.

Les articles sélectionnés ont pour point commun d'avoir été rédigés par des chercheurs de l'un des fleurons de la recherche française, l'Institut de physique du globe de Paris (IPGP). Le malaise ? Tous ont été acceptés pour publication par des scientifiques qui étaient à la fois membres du même IPGP et du comité éditorial d' EPSL. Juges et partie, donc.

Pour comprendre, il faut savoir que EPSL fonctionne autour d'un comité de sept chercheurs éminents, choisis par cooptation et ayant tous rang d'éditeur en chef. Chacun consacre bénévolement une partie de son temps à recevoir et évaluer des travaux qu'il décide, ou non, de publier. Et ce, sans avoir de comptes à rendre aux autres.

Toutefois, en cas de conflit d'intérêts potentiel (même institution, récente collaboration, etc.) avec les auteurs qui lui soumettent leur travail pour évaluation, l'éditeur doit se désister au profit d'un autre membre du comité éditorial de la revue. Ces précautions sont cardinales : unités de recherche et chercheurs sont évalués par leurs tutelles en fonction du nombre d'articles publiés et du prestige des revues qui les acceptent.

En dépit de ces usages, les trois chercheurs de l'IPGP ayant successivement siégé au comité éditorial d' EPSL - Paul Tapponnier (1992-1996), Vincent Courtillot (2003-2005) et Claude Jaupart (2006-2008) - ont tous pris en charge et accepté de publier des travaux émanant de leur institut. Institut dirigé à plusieurs reprises par deux des trois intéressés.


Anonymous said...

I see that Courtillot's and Allegre's networks are doing well for the EGU medal. Why am I not surprised ... what a bunch of corrupt guys.

And I would have lots to say about these two people. And not only me, but several geophysicists as well. Let's say to summarize that these two are the perfect product of the current administrative-academic selection process : mandarin sharks.
Yup, there is a lot of grudge. Current IPGP's state is a monument to their lack of ethics and greedness.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and one last point : EPSL is edited by .... Elsevier.

You can't make that stuff up.


toto said...

The article is ambiguous. Were they acting as editors, or as reviewers, for said papers?

If they were acting as reviewers, or if someone can find evidence of a "De Freitas" (rogue editor accepting his pals' papers over severe objections from reviewers), then there is a clear scandal there.

Otherwise... Meh.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

haha yeah this sound eerily familiar to Dr. Happer being fired by Al Bore. The studies are probably being done by a bunch of activist college students who don't know anything. The 2 scientists are probably in charge of grant money or something and Eli and the team are after the money.

bluegrue said...

I take it that Eli has not missed Georg Hoffmann's coverage of Allègre/Courtillot over the years? e.g.

EliRabett said...

Toto, they were acting a editors and approving publication of papers from their institution. This is a big shameful nono.

Anonymous said...

@Jay Cadbury : let's see how deep you dug this time.

Courtillot is the director of the geosciences research institute IPGP and thus gets money from french and european grants. Google is your friend.

Yup, you managed to dig even deeper this time. Go on please, I would like to check some theories about Earth core ...

Anonymous said...


"Courtillot is the director of the geosciences research institute IPGP and thus gets money from french and european grants. Google is your friend."

so what? I want to see the papers they didn't approve. Based on Happer's firing and the papers that came out after he got fired, I'd say there's much more to this story than is being told. If the studies are shoddy, then Courtillot should be commended for protecting taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

@ Cadbury ommiting to sign :

and then you get even deeper. They are NOT accused to having not approved a paper. They are accused of having approved a paper from pals from the same institute, contrary to policy rules.

It's plain written just above. Just saying. You know, a bit above your ridiculous baseless accusations flirting with defamation.