Home > Carbon 14 Dating, News & Views > Peer Review of the Freer-Waters/Jull Paper Continued

Peer Review of the Freer-Waters/Jull Paper Continued

January 28, 2011

Earlier today, Paolo Di Lazzaro offered this perspective:

It isn’t the first time that an Editor is co-author of a paper submitted to its own journal. And usually the (formal) problem is easily solved by a blind review procedure.

As an example, I faced a similar spot when I submitted two papers for publication in the Proceeding volume of IWSAI (International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos images). I was co-author of two papers and at the same time editor of the Proceedings and responsible for the choice of the Referees.

I solved this problem asking to a colleague to manage the review procedure: select the Referees, receive from each Referee the anonymous review, and send me the same reviews. She received my reply and the corrected paper and she sent it to the Referees for the final response.

In summary, there are simple rules to avoid a conflict of interest. It is likely Jull followed the same method.

Joe Marino had written:

Radiocarbon is a peer-reviewed journal but Jull is indeed the editor, so if there was peer-review, one has to wonder how rigorous it would have been. This is very similar to the late Dr. Walter McCrone’s peer-reviewed journal “The Microscope.” He published one or two Shroud articles in there, but that was literally his own journal, so once again, one has to wonder about the rigor of any article written by a principal of the journal. The circumstances of Jull’s article, much like the Arizona samples, will likely remain murky. (I was not even tempted to say “will likely remain shrouded in mystery.)

Avoiding the perception of a conflict of interest is important, as well. Prof. Jull is not only the editor of the journal, he is the Director of this National Science Foundation AMS lab. The paper that was published was the lead paper in its particular edition and it was in essence a defense of prior work at the lab in which Dr. Jull was involved.

For years to come, the particulars of the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin will be lessons for students and examples for journalists. Since 1988, Tucson has been the subject of unanswered questions about the handling of the material and the actual way test results were handled. After six years of silence since the Rogers paper of 2005, Prof. Jull could have answered the questions about what transpired in 1988. Instead he mounted an “absence of evidence as evidence of absence” defense, with suspiciously erroneous warp and weft thread counts, that makes one wonder if this paper could have been peer-reviewed.

I do hope, however, that Paolo Di Lazzaro is right. I know him to be a careful scholar.

Again, I highly recommend Mark Oxley’s Paper at Barrie’s website.

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