Auer, MR; Cox, M. 2010. Appraising climate change information reported to Congress. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGIES AND MANAGEMENT 2 (2): 118-133

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jul 8 14:42:33 EDT 2011

Auer, MR; Cox, M. 2010. Appraising climate change information reported to 
MANAGEMENT 2 (2): 118-133..

Author Full Name(s): Auer, Matthew R.; Cox, Michael
Language: English
Document Type: Article

Author Keywords: Global warming; Information retrieval; Research 
organizations; Research results; United States of America

Abstract: Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyze the sources and 
qualities of information on climate change commissioned by the US Congress 
from its affiliated research bodies.
Design/methodology/approach - Cited material in reports commissioned by 
Congress from three legislative research bodies were categorized and tallied for 
the years 1990-2005. Qualities of cited material, such as indicators of primary-
level data analysis and references to peer-reviewed academic scholarship were 
Findings - Of the three agencies, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) makes 
reference to peer-reviewed academic scholarship most often. Nevertheless, 
only around a quarter of all cited material in CBO reports are from academic 
journals and comparatively few cites are to articles in top-tier journals. The 
Congressional Research Service (CRS) cites its own past publications more 
often than it cites peer-reviewed scholarship.
Research limitations/implications - Refereed academic journals are not the only 
source of rigorous scientific information in the reference materials used by the 
three legislative research bodies. Primary-level data are found in governmental 
gray literature, and these data are analyzed by the legislative research bodies 
in their reports to Congress. The research bodies also make use of peer-
reviewed research by private research organizations, though these latter 
materials may not be published in academic journals. Further research is needed 
to determine whether and to what extent the legislative research bodies' 
reports are consequential in shaping lawmakers' deliberations versus other 
sources of information and persuasion, e.g. reports by the Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change, news reportage, constituent perspectives, witness 
testimony in hearings, campaign contributions, etc.
Practical implications - Legislative research organizations are official conveyors 
of policy-relevant information to Congress. It is reasonable to expect these 
organizations to provide competent analyses derived from peer-reviewed 
science. The present paper suggests that commissioned reports by these 
organizations vary in terms of the range of source materials relied on, but 
reference materials are seldom derived from top-tier academic journals. At least 
one research body, the CRS, frequently refers to its own reports as a major 
source for information on climate change. Two out of three of the legislative 
support bodies make greater use of governmental gray literature versus 
academic scholarship.
Originality/value - References to purported shortcomings in the legislative 
research bodies' technical/analytical capacities exist in the public affairs 
literature, but are anecdotal. The present paper offers an empirical exploration 
of this concern, focusing on the most important environmental problem of the 

Addresses: [Auer, Matthew R.; Cox, Michael] Indiana Univ, Sch Publ & Environm 
Affairs, Bloomington, IN 47405 USA; [Auer, Matthew R.] Indiana Univ, Hutton 
Honors Coll, Bloomington, IN USA
Reprint Address: Auer, MR, Indiana Univ, Sch Publ & Environm Affairs, 
Bloomington, IN 47405 USA.

E-mail Address: mauer at
ISSN: 1756-8692
DOI: 10.1108/17568691011040380

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