GWCT burningbloggate 3 – evasion, evasion, evasion

An Afghan Uniform Police officer climbs into a deep hole to search for weapons caches during a clearing operation in Jafare Sufla, Shah Joy district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. David Devich/Released)
An Afghan Uniform Police officer climbs into a deep hole to search for weapons caches during a clearing operation in Jafare Sufla, Shah Joy district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. David Devich/Released)  Or is it the GWCT and are they still digging?

I had a feeling it was worth numbering these blogs!

The hapless GWCT have been stung into responding to the questions posed here – but with evasion not with answers.  Their slipping integrity slips further.

GWCT say: Step 1 – We became aware that this paper had been made publicly available on Swansea University’s website.

I ask: How? Did you just trip over it by accident or were you told it was there? And when was this?

GWCT say: Step 2 – Out of courtesy we emailed the author and asked if this version was supposed to be in the public domain – they confirmed it was.

I ask: bit of a slip up there guys: ‘the author’? There are 10 authors of the paper and I’m guessing that you contacted the eighth author. Bit odd? ‘They’ confirmed it was – do you mean ‘he’?  Do you know whether or not the author was speaking for all the authors?  And when did this happen?

GWCT say: Step 3 – We drafted a blog post and emailed it to the author for comment. Revisions were minor and were included before the blog was posted online.

I ask: ‘the author’ again? There are 10 authors of this paper. When did this happen? When on 8 March was the blog posted online?

GWCT say: Step 4 – Later that day the Royal Society rang to say the paper had been put in the public domain in error and asked us to remove the online link to the paper. We complied immediately.

I ask: When did this happen?

GWCT say: Step 5 – We have remained in contact with both the authors and the Royal Society – neither have asked for the blog post to be taken down.

I say: You, GWCT, should have taken the blog post down without being asked. The authors should certainly have asked for it to be taken down. The Royal Society should certainly have asked for it to be taken down as they are now, rather peculiarly, and according to you, complicit in the breaking of the embargo of their own journal.

GWCT say: Step 6 – The authors have suggested we should wait until the Royal Society publish the paper in May, before discussing it further – a request we are happy to respect.

I say: Well, it is unlikely that this issue will disappear without some truthful informative answers about how the paper emerged into the dim murk of the GWCT blog and into The Times newspaper. We’re not discussing the paper here – we’re discussing whether it was or wasn’t leaked in a highly political manner in contravention of the embargo. That’s what I am trying to get to the bottom of. Your evasion is shoddy – it never looks good to evade questions for which there might be perfectly reasonable answers, or perfectly unreasonable ones.

And let’s just point out that GWCT have evaded answering the following questions from my earlier blog:

  • Did you download the embargoed paper from the University of Swansea website?
  • If so, when exactly?
  • How did you become aware that it was there?
  • When precisely did you send out your newsletter to members and supporters highlighting your blog which at the time had a link to the embargoed paper?
  • In what way was sending out this paper to your members compliant with ‘Any person downloading material is agreeing to abide by the terms of the repository licence.’ as attached to the download of the paper?

How many is that? Errr!


All of them!


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7 Replies to “GWCT burningbloggate 3 – evasion, evasion, evasion”

  1. I’ve got a question for Dr Avery Did they actually send the article to their members? Or was it a link?

    In neither case of course did they ‘publish’ it.

    Linking to a site where an article can be downloaded from is no more publishing it than is directing someone to a newsagent selling the Times.

    1. Giles – you should read these blogs before commenting on them. That would help your understanding a great deal.

      GWCT and Scottish Lands and Estates will be so relieved to have you and Andy Richardson as their main defenders.

      1. I’m not defending GWCT Mark.

        I di however eot as far as this:

        “Publishing something that is not yours, without the authors’ permission, and before it is scheduled to be made public is a hanging offence in science. In this case, the GWCT say that ”

        That reads to me as if you are claiming that GWCT published the article – is that what you are claiming? Because if you are then you are lying.

        You love to put questions to people but you rarely answer questions put to you.

        Le t me put a very simple question to you:

        Are you claiming that GWCT published this article?

        1. Whether or not GWCT technically ‘published’ the article they certainly ‘publicised’ it, when it was embargoed (and they ought to have known it was embargoed). If that’s not a hanging offence, it’s surely life without parole – they appear to have done so without the permission of nine of the ten authors or the publisher of the journal itself. On the face of it a serious breach of scientific protocol whichever word you choose to use and possibly dodgy with regards to intellectual property.

          GWCT may wish to defend themselves by claiming they didn’t ‘publish’ the paper, although they may be wise not to – as I understand it the Copyright Licencing Agency are not an enforcement agency you want to get on the wrong side of and don’t give marks for trying.

          I’d also be a bit worried if I was at Swansea University revising for finals or putting the finishing touches to a PhD – journal publishers have been known to revoke a university’s online journal access without notice if they become aware that a breach of copyright has occurred. Fun times!

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