Re: [asa] Sternberg quote

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Tue Mar 27 2007 - 13:44:47 EDT

On 3/27/07, <> wrote:
> On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 08:32:15 -0700
> "Donald F Calbreath" <> wrote:
> > The information I have seen suggests that Sternberg did
> >follow the normal peer-review process. To do otherwise
> >would be extremely foolish.
> Not according to the publisher of the journal:
> "Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was
> published without review by any associate editor;
> Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council,
> which includes officers, elected councilors, and past
> presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed
> the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings
> because the subject matter represents such a significant
> departure from the nearly purely systematic content for
> which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year
> history. "

This seems to be quite different from what Sternberg says on his website:

In the case of the Meyer paper I followed all the standard procedures for
publication in the Proceedings. As managing editor it was my prerogative to
choose the editor who would work directly on the paper, and as I was best
qualified among the editors I chose myself, something I had done before in
other appropriate cases. In order to avoid making a unilateral decision on a
potentially controversial paper, however, I discussed the paper on at least
three occasions with another member of the Council of the Biological Society
of Washington (BSW), a scientist at the National Museum of Natural History.
Each time, this colleague encouraged me to publish the paper despite
possible controversy.

The Meyer paper underwent a standard peer review process by three qualified
scientists, all of whom are evolutionary and molecular biologists teaching
at well-known institutions. The reviewers provided substantial criticism and
feedback to Dr. Meyer, who then made significant changes to the paper in
response. Subsequently, after the controversy arose, Dr. Roy McDiarmid,
President of the Council of the BSW, reviewed the peer-review file and
concluded that all was in order. As Dr. McDiarmid informed me in an email
message on August 25th, 2004, "Finally, I got the [peer] reviews and agree
that they are in support of your decision [to publish the article]."

Well, someone's telling porkies here. Sternberg claims that he consulted
another member of the council before proceeding to handle the editorial
process, and also that it was indeed peer-reviewed.

Comparing the two stories reminds me of a line from a Dire Straits album:
"Two men say they're Jesus. One of them must be wrong."

Sternberg also has some interesting comments on the way he was treated at
the Smithsonian following publication of the article:

Website is at...


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Received on Tue Mar 27 13:45:27 2007

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