Last October, David Rose wrote that Nick Stern’s research centre has falsely claimed credit for papers it had no role in. Rose listed a few anecdotes. Stern runs a big research programme, with lots of people and lots of papers. You could dismiss the suspect papers as mishaps, although Stern’s spokesman, Bob Ward, reacted so furiously that there may be more to this story. So, I started digging.
I focussed on two large grants, both from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), for the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Leeds (U Leeds). The first grant was £4.6 million, the second £4.4 million. These grants matter because this is money from the UK taxpayer. These are also easy to investigate because the ESRC tells beneficiaries to publish their outputs. The first grant ran from Oct 2008 to Sep 2013. All outputs are archived. The second grant runs from Oct 2013 to Sep 2018. All outputs that were used in the mid-term review are archived.
The first project claims 444 papers as outputs of the research grant. 36 (8%) of these papers were published in or before 2008. The project started in October of that year. It is extraordinary to do a piece of academic research and publish it in three months time.
151 papers specify the date of submission to the journal in which it was published. 41 (27%) has a submission date in of before 2008.
Of the 444 papers, 331 (75%) are accessible. 185 (56%) of these explicitly state their funding source. 51 (28%) acknowledge the ESRC, 134 (72%) acknowledge other funders.
157 (35%) of claimed papers have nothing to do with climate change, and another 40 (9%) are on the science of climate change rather than its economics or policy.
These trends continue in the second project. 396 papers are claimed as outputs. 60 (15%) were published in or before 2013. The project started in October of that year.
30 papers specify the submission date. 25 (83%) were submitted in or before 2013.
Of the 396 papers, 373 (95%) are accessible. Of those, 277 (74%) acknowledge their funding source. 129 (47%) thank the ESRC, 148 (53%) thank other funders.
126 (32%) of the claimed papers have nothing to do with climate change.
These numbers are staggering. David Rose found only the tip of the iceberg. Nick Stern and colleagues received £9 million from the UK taxpayer. For the first half of that money, they appear to have exaggerated their output by a factor four. Based on that “success”, they were awarded the second half of the money, and continue to exaggerate their output, albeit by only a factor two.
Bishop Hill, 26 May
Climate Dispatch, 26 May
EconJobRumors, 26 May
Environment Guru, 26 May
Principia Scientific International, 26 May