Mon, 13 Sep 2010

The Vice-Chancellor has issued the following statement to emphasise the complementary nature of reviews into the Climate Research Unit (CRU).

‘The recent thorough scrutiny of CRU's work makes this a unique case. It is worth emphasising the complementary nature of the various reviews and the way in which they relate to peer review.

The Scientific Assessment Panel, selected in consultation with the Royal Society, headed by Lord Oxburgh and set up in March 2010 was, as I told the Select Committee earlier that month, to ‘reassess the science and make sure there's nothing wrong.' This was rightly paraphrased in the Select Committee's March Report when it said that the Panel would ‘determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built' (Conclusions and Recommendations, para 19). As the published Oxburgh report indicated, it was established to address criticism that ‘climatic data had been dishonestly selected, manipulated and/or presented to arrive at pre-determined conclusions that were not compatible with a fair interpretation of the original data.' 

The Muir Russell Review, set up in December 2009, was asked to examine the raft of what turned out to be groundless allegations made against CRU scientists. Sir Muir was invited to make any changes to the terms of reference that he saw fit. The Review established a website and invited submissions by anyone anywhere. It proceeded to subject the allegations against the scientists to minute examination. It concluded that their ‘rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt' and found no evidence to cast any doubt on the extent to which their work can ‘be trusted and should be relied upon.'

The outcome of the Oxburgh Review, like that of Russell, was a ringing endorsement of the honesty and integrity of the scientists in CRU and the conduct of their research. Oxburgh found ‘no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice.' 

Alongside these two reviews, a further exhaustive examination has been undertaken by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It, too, found no evidence to support the allegations made against CRU. 

I think it is important to emphasise that the fulsome vindication of the honesty and integrity of the work by these reviews does not obviate the role of peer review. Peer review is the well established process by which science is assessed for publication. Likewise, the research methodology and conclusions of published work need to be subjected to continuing scrutiny and potential challenge. CRU's published outputs have been subject to expert peer review for more than three decades and remain open to scrutiny by anyone.' 

Professor Edward Acton
Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia