Friday, November 30, 2007

Entrepreneurship and public policy

"Many proponents believe that interdisciplinary research is a must to address complex problems in society. At the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, 'The goal is to do research in global change relevant to policy,' says Leen Hordijk, IIASA's director. An international research organization with scientists from 38 different countries, IIASA was founded as an east-west think tank at the height of the Cold War."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

400 years of global-scale societal impacts of climate change

First study to give quantitative and scientific evidence about the impact of climate change on human societies in recent human history at global and continental scales

Hong Kong University Department of Geography professor Dr. David Zhang and researcher Mr. Harry Lee found that “historical war-peace, population and economic cycles are most likely induced by climate change.”

“Even though temperatures are increasing now, the same resulting conflicts may occur since we still greatly depend on the land as our food source,” said Peter Brecke, associate professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and co-author of the study. Brecke assembled a database of 4,500 wars worldwide and population data between the years 1400-1900, with funding from the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The article by David D. Zhang, Peter Brecke, Harry F. Lee, Yuan-Qing He and Jane Zhang is to be published on 4 December 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). It is entitled, "Global climate change, war and population decline in recent human history."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Advice from AMS/MWR Reviewers and Editors

The following excerpts can help authors, reviewers and editors improve their writing.

I have never been able to write a review quite this positive before, but I really thought the manuscript was exceptionally good. This manuscript was very informative and was a joy to read. The authors use special data to document [the subject] and place this case in the context of others observed by routinely available data. Finally, they demonstrate the inability of satellite-derived products to adequately resolve the [subject]. The manuscript certainly is appropriate and will be of interest to many…. I commend the authors on a well-written manuscript. The data and methodology are clearly described, the results are presented in an easy-to-understand fashion, and the conclusions are fully supported. In addition, the figures are of high quality and the figure captions are complete, fully describing the content of each figure…. Summary: This is a great manuscript!

This paper reads like a rough draft. I do not know how the more experienced co-authors could have let this paper be submitted in the shape that it is in. They are supposed to take the time to go through the paper and in the process provide guidance for their graduate student in effective technical/scientific writing. They should not turn this responsibility over to the reviewers…. Writing quality cannot be stressed enough, so it is very important to review each sentence in the manuscript carefully (does it say what I really mean, could it be interpreted differently, could I have been more concise, is this sentence essential, etc.). Again, take this point in a constructive way. We have all been through the process of learning how to write effectively (with plenty of critiques along the way).

A number of the figures are substandard and in some cases the analysis on the figure is wrong…. If the reader finds basic analysis errors and less than adequate graphics, it prompts the thought…why should I believe anything else that follows? There are a number of instances in the text where the authors [appear] intent on displaying a higher degree of technical skill than need be (it basically comes off looking artificial and reads poorly)…. Sometimes simple and concise really is best. As a reviewer, I am getting worn down by all the items needing attention.

I have reexamined the revised manuscript and found it to be much improved: more concise, better focused, and much more useful to the reader. The authors should be complimented for responding so positively to all the reviewers’ comments and taking suggestions seriously.

The Response document sent back to me was first-rate. Each of my comments had a response and any modifications to the text quoted in the response. This saved a significant amount of time and allowed a nonstop, continuous reread of the manuscript without having to stop to verify changes. All in all, a big improvement. In my view the manuscript is ready for publication.

The originality of the article is poor. While the…effect is a unique aspect of the study, the conclusions from this study have been found previously through either observational analyses or numerical simulations. Several previously published studies that discuss many of the aspects addressed in the manuscript are not referenced.

The technical quality of the article is very poor. Several areas of the manuscript demonstrate the authors' lack of familiarity with basic meteorological concepts and processes. For an observational case study, very few meteorological observations are presented and NCEP reanalysis is relied on heavily for "data" analyses. Additionally, the author uses a checklist approach of previously known…conditions to the investigation / description of the…event without presenting quantitative data.

The clarity of the presentation is poor. Grammatical errors are present throughout the manuscript and basic meteorological processes are poorly presented. The manuscript is very repetitive throughout all sections and analyses/discussions are presented in very vague and general terms.

The practical significance of the article is good; however the relationships that are presented as the main findings of the study are very general and are already well known....

Based on a critical review of the manuscript, I recommend rejection of the article. The scientific analyses and interpretations...are at a level well below the standards of the typical AMS publication....

The manuscript is poorly written and organized with very sophomoric descriptions of meteorological processes that I would not accept from my introductory undergraduate meteorology students.... A personal memory of past events should not be used to provide a climatological description of weather events. Although the deployment of radar systems may be recent and not provide an adequate data source for a climatological study, perhaps historical records...combined with a historical synoptic analysis could give insight into the frequency of these events.

I serve as the Editor of your recently submitted manuscript. I am sorry to inform you that I am rejecting it for publication. Your manuscript has numerous grammatical mistakes and nonexistent words that inhibit the ability of a reader to understand your arguments. According to page 23 of the AMS Authors' Guide at

"All manuscripts must be written in the English language. Neither AMS editors nor staff have the time available to edit manuscripts that require extensive grammatical changes, as can sometimes be the case with authors from non-English-speaking countries. While the AMS wishes to encourage the international exchange of scientific results through its journals, it requests that such authors make their own arrangements to ensure that submitted manuscripts are already in correct English. If not, their submissions may be returned unreviewed."

The magnitude and extent to which correct English is not employed in your paper is such that I am returning your manuscript unreviewed, as per the AMS guidelines. Only if your manuscript undergoes significant revision may it be resubmitted as a new article. Should you wish to revise and resubmit your manuscript to any journal, I recommend that you hire a technical editor who is proficient in the English language to improve the manuscript or seek out the advice of a native English speaker who will take the time to provide feedback to you in revising your manuscript. Without either one of these approaches, I am afraid you will find your manuscript rejected by most journals.

I am happy to see that AMS will publish a book on scientific writing. Even [authors] who predominately have English as their native language need help.... If I were hard-nosed (or even more so than I am) when reviewing [poorly written] manuscripts...I would simply return them without a review. In cases in which I think the science is good, I will do the editing in hopes that it can get published. In some cases where I suspect that I would have to first do a lot of editing and I suspect the science is not that good, I simply refuse to do the review.