Where Climate Science Goes to Die

Posted on February 3, 2012


Energy and Environment Gets No Respect (And Doesn’t Deserve It)

Pacific salmon have a lousy sex life.  They swim upstream.  She lays her eggs.  He drops by later with his sperm.  Then they both die.

But at least—despite an exceedingly no-frills approach to reproduction—there are subsequent generations to carry on.

But let us say you are a climate scientist unfortunate enough to publish in Energy and Environment.  That is an exercise in true futility.  Because E&E is where climate science goes to die.

The scientific vitality of a paper is measured in how seriously other scientists take it.  On the top of the heap are journals like Nature.  A paper published in Nature will be referenced in the professional literature an average of 30 times over a four year period.  A paper published in a middle-of-the-road journal like the Journal of Climate will be referenced 3.57 times.  On the other hand, a paper published in Energy and Environment has only a 42% chance of being referenced at all over four years, an impact factor of 0.42.

If we express these figures another way, as a sort of rating system, and set Nature at 1000, then Journal of Climate would have a rating of 119 and E&E would have a rating of 14.  Thus, publishing in E&E is a kind of scientific death without reward.

Consider the following graphs.  In them, green means life and red means death.

The first graph shows the ratio of cited (green) versus uncited (red) papers in E&E over given three year periods.  As you can see, the vast majority of papers in E&E are not cited at all, by anyone.

Here is a similar graph for Journal of Climate.  As you can see, the ratio of cited to uncited papers greatly favours cited papers.

Conclusion:  If you want to die a scholarly death, ignored in a marginal journal that no scientist takes seriously, by all means go to E&E.

It’s a harbor for scientists who don’t mind beaching their scientific careers.

But then, because of a well-known and publicly-stated editorial bias, the scientists who publish there on the subject of climate are inevitably climate deniers.  Most of them don’t have any scientific credibility to give up anyway.


See Energy and Environment – “journal of choice for climate skeptics” Analyzing the 900+ skeptic papers part III – The Carbon Brief