Science and peer review
There is a lot of information on climate change science available in the media and on the web, but how can you ensure what you are reading is independent and not influenced by personal, social or political agendas?
The peer-review process provides a mechanism to quality control scientific discourse and therefore peer-reviewed papers provide a reliable and quality-assured source of information on climate change science. Science relies on the continued questioning and challenging of ideas. When a new hypothesis or finding is published in a scientific journal, other scientists will take it seriously because it has been through the peer-review process.
Once an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, its ideas can be challenged or supported by other scientists with peer-reviewed articles of their own. when a new idea is published in a paper, it’s interesting and thought- provoking. When the same idea is supported by multiple papers, then it becomes compelling.
The peer-review process
For scientific journals, the peer-review process starts with the submission of a manuscript. The editorial staff refer the manuscript to at least two impartial reviewers who are qualified to judge the competence, significance and originality of the research.
The reviewers’ comments are passed to the authors of the manuscript with a covering note from the editor, indicating whether changes need to be made before the manuscript is acceptable for publication.
The final decision about whether the manuscript should be published lies with the editor.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the peer-reviewed literature on climate change every five to six years. Their assessment reports, which are themselves peer-reviewed, are a very credible source of information. The reports are subject to an intense peer-review process involving hundreds of scientific experts and government reviewers. This unprecedented level of peer and government review makes this compendium of climate change science one of the most scrutinised documents in the history of science.
CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology make a significant contribution to the international climate science literature, reporting on their research activities. They also produce a range of information on past and future climate for Australia and other regions, based on peer-reviewed science. These include:
- State of the Climate
- Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia
- Climate Change in Australia
- Climate Change in the Pacific
You may also like to look at a number of other non-CSIRO sites, including:
- Australian Bureau of Meteorology
- Australian Academy of Science's The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers
- UK Met office
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change