Tuesday, November 08, 2005

intelligibility is in the eye of the beholder

When a manuscript is sent out for peer review, the reviewers will usually later receive a copy of the editor's decision as well as the other reviews. Today I received others' reviews of a manuscript for which I was Reviewer C.

Reviewer A begins:
Before you submit your paper to scientific journals and ask their editors and reviewers to invest considerable time and effort in evaluating it, please have your colleagues read it over, to make sure that it makes sense to other people. It is part of the professional courtesy. Unfortunately, you have failed to do this most fundamental task. As a result, your paper is very unfocused and makes very little sense to other readers...
Reviewer B begins:
This paper is clearly written...

11 comments:

dorotha said...

you don't give us enough information, jeremy. what if reviewer b's sentence was "this paper is clearly written by a monkey." that changes the tone, doesn't it.

ebhtomb said...

See, I thought it meant that the paper was written, not typed. Or that the parts that were clear were not written, and the parts that were written were not clear.

Henry said...

dorotha stole my point.

Anonymous said...

But you see this sort of thing all the time in these comments.

Anonymous said...

i've reviewed scores of papers for peer-reviewed journals and i've never seen that sort of statement before (rev A).

Anonymous said...

What did Reviewer C think?

Anonymous said...

I've never seen a comment like that, either, though it hardly surprises me given the attitude of many of my colleagues.

Katie said...

Thats why I love the peer review process....

Agee said...

Ooh. Reviwer A was a bit nasty! Of course, in grad school, I remember submitting papers where one faculty member would underline some of my phrases and label them "awkward" and another faculty member would label them "wonderful!"

Tom Volscho said...

During the summer of 2003 I was walking upstairs after getting a rejection letter from a journal and I was so ticked off by the reviewers that I hurled a chair down the hallway. Luckily it was the summer and no one was there to be injured :-)

P. G. said...

so the real question is... did the editor take it?