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What they REALLY thought of your paper
January 31, 2011 1:18 AM   Subscribe

Related to the previous post, but hopefully sufficiently different: referees' quotes on manuscripts submitted to Environmental Microbiology: the Best of 2010.

On "Alfachetoglutarate": for those who don't know, alpha-ketoglutarate ia a major intermediate in the Krebs cycle, aka how you burn most of your sugars.
posted by subdee (11 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I stole some of the phrasing in this post - including the explanation for alpha-ketoglutarate - from my friend Kara.
posted by subdee at 1:22 AM on January 31, 2011


Oh, and the link and post title. I stole those from her too.
posted by subdee at 1:24 AM on January 31, 2011


Just remember: "Amateurs borrow, professionals steal". Pretty funny stuff in here. It hurts me a little to have so little criticism of a post :)
posted by frodisaur at 2:31 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I appreciated this, thanks for the link.
posted by onalark at 4:00 AM on January 31, 2011


Nice to see behind the scenes like this. I'm a bit disappointed though with the quality of much of the prose of these no doubt highly educated people - it reads a bit like IM chatter.
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 5:10 AM on January 31, 2011


"The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about."

I'm contemplating using this one the next time I'm grading papers. Sadly I could use it often.
posted by trigger at 5:37 AM on January 31, 2011


It takes an especially mean-spirited journal editor to publish these, especially given that some of the comments mention paper topics (thus presumably allowing article authors wonder if the comments refer to them).

I would also be upset if I were one of those reviewers. Those comments seem to come from the comments to the editors, which most review forms indicate are confidential between reviewer and editor. I would be upset if I found that my comments in that portion of a review had been published, even anonymously.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:55 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hee hee hee. Microbiology. Teeny weeny text. I get it!

Oh wait... size: 32.7 %.

Never mind.
posted by Mike D at 6:17 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice to see behind the scenes like this. I'm a bit disappointed though with the quality of much of the prose of these no doubt highly educated people - it reads a bit like IM chatter.

True. Two things to note there:

1. In the hard sciences, as much education as you may get, prose is always a bit of a secondary concern.
2. Refereeing for journals is generally entirely uncompensated work. You don't get paid for it, nobody is impressed with a CV line that says "Occasional referee for Environmental Microbiology" and your reward for doing it well is that you get to do it again some time. People do it out of a sense of responsibility to their field and are often squeezing it into slots between classes, meetings with grad students, and meetings with committees that accomplish nothing. (Or whenever else it will fit. I used to make a habit if doing this and things like it while I was at the laundromat.) Quick and sloppy as it may be, the editor just wants to know what to do with it next.
posted by el_lupino at 7:48 AM on January 31, 2011


I could swear this was a double, but I can't seem to find the previous link. Maybe it was some other website. Ah well, funny before, funny again.
posted by maryr at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2011


It takes an especially mean-spirited journal editor to publish these

Unbelievably so; publishing this is about the least collegial act I can imagine. And mightn't it create an insult-humor arms-race for subsequent years' reviewers, who'll surely be thinking "will this make the list?" in the back of their minds as they write their future reports? It's not like bad peer reviewers need any incentive to be gratuitously insulting even with the confidentiality they're generally promised; this list seems like it might lead a journal's internal culture in a very bad direction. Why not list the most charitable, thoughtful, and helpful rejections instead? In my experience those are much, much harder to write than cheap potshots.
posted by RogerB at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


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