Data archiving
Jan 3, 2009
Bishop Hill in Climate

Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit has been trying to get hold of the dataset underlying a study by prominent IPCC author, Ben Santer. Santer himself has (rather snottily) told him that he can't have the data, while the journal in question, the International Journal of Climatology, has refused to help too. The editor, one Dr MacGregor, has said that they do not require authors to archive data as a condition of publication and that data can be obtained from the authors. This was rather cheeky, given that the authors had already refused to release a thing.

The International Journal of Climatology is a published by Wiley on behalf of the Royal Meteorological Society. I have now written to the Chief Executive of the RMS asking for a statement on the society's position on the issue

Dear Professor Hardaker

I read with great interest a recent article on the Climate Audit blog, which reported on attempts to obtain copies of the datasets underlying a paper published in the International Journal of Climatology. According to the journal's editor, Dr MacGregor:

"It is not the policy of the International Journal of Climatology to require that data sets used in analyses be made available as a condition of publication. Rather if individuals are interested in the data on which papers are based then they are encouraged to communicate directly with the authors."

I found it frankly rather amazing that a journal would adopt a position of not requiring datasets to be availableas a condition of publication,given the importance of replication in the scientific process. It also seems somewhat unhelpfulof the editor to suggest a direct approach to the authors as a possible remedy, given that the authors in question had already turned down such a request. Mr McIntyre at Climate Audit has subsequently made unfavourable comparisons between the policies of IJC and the Royal Society's Phil Trans B which has adopted and enforced a policy on data archiving (see, and given that the paper in question is now essentially unreplicatable, I find it hard to disagree with this position.

Since this is a matter of pressing public concern, I was wondering if you would care to issue a statement on the Society's position on the importance of replication and the availability of data used in its publications, both in general terms and in relation to the paper in question. I think it is important for the Society to make a stand on the credibility of the papers that are published under its name. This would be an excellent subject for a posting on your blog.

I have published this letter on my own website at and will of course link to or publish any response you give.

Kind regards

My feeling on this issue is that the Society has probably never concerned itself with nitty-gritty issues like data archiving, but that they could and should. It will be interesting to see what Professor Hardaker has to say.

(Professor Hardaker's blog is here).



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