Cranky Reviewers

It is always that third reviewer (well, actually in my case it was the second reviewer). That one that can just kill ya.

You know the one I mean. The one that said that you did the assay ALL wrong, the assay you’ve been doing for 20 years and can produce at least 15 references from top labs in your field that support the method that you used as perfectly correct. Uh huh. Or the one that uses clearly condescending language- like… THANK GOD they decided to do XYZ  (implies… at least one of the authors over there knows what they are doing!). Or how about the … you didn’t cite my work… disguised as ‘the authors should correct an egregious omission of the work referencing bla bla bla by famous scientist X. These references  should be cited on in the relevant section’. Ok sometimes that one is for real. Or better yet- you didn’t cite the biology I work on, even though it is only peripheral to the biology that you put in this paper. Or how about the reviewer that seems to have trouble integrating panel A with the controls in panel B, and keeps claiming that your image is an artifact of your technique, even though your experimental sample and your control sample use the same technique and the results have been quantified and are clearly statistically significantly different. Finally… there is the reviewer that complains endlessly about the poor grammar and spelling … in a review that is filled with spelling and grammatical errors. (and just so you know, I may have made any or all of these points at one time or another…. although I hope that I did not).

Name your favorite cranky reviewer stock review points.


11 thoughts on “Cranky Reviewers

  1. Zen- Oh glaring omission- ‘it would have been nice if the authors would have’…. to that I say- if it doesn’t strengthen or disprove the conclusion in some relevant way- I don’t CARE if the reviewer thought it would be ‘nice if’ bla bla bla had been shown.

    My bad.

  2. I got a great one once, which was: “In some ways, the hypothesis is too liberal (is always correct). In other ways, it is too conservative (can never be correct).” As you might imagine, this was difficult to address in the revisions.

  3. Reviewers who do not read well, for example:

    -Author did not do X

    (Figure #1 Clearly shows X)

  4. This research was already done (Blah Blooehy, 1992). Except that it wasn’t.

  5. Your main conclusion is obvious. “Everyone already knows that.” No citation, though. Especially nice when paired with reviewer #2 who thinks I haven’t fully proven my “obvious” hypothesis and need more experiments.

  6. Modification of what Pinus said:

    1st round “Author did not do X” (Figure #1 Clearly shows X)
    2nd round ” Authors still did not do X despite being asked to do this in the first review” (multiple panels in Fig. 1 AND 2 show X AND it was addressed explicitly in response to reviewers).


  7. So-and-so has unpublished data that have already demonstrated this. You should contact so-and-so so you can cite his work.

    Glad to see you’re back, DrDrA

  8. Reviewer asking why we didn’t produce selfed progenies from female plants (while we did with hermaphrodites).

    Reviewer confusing global sample size with factor size (that made a drop from over three hundreds from eight –of course we wouldn’t do stats with such a ridiculously small sample size).

    Reviewer saying he simply doesn’t buy it (why? never knew –as if results could be ignored…). WTF does it have to do with the reviewing process? If you’re not happy, just do experiments to prove otherwise and let the discussion grow, but don’t kill it in the egg (and carriers of others in the process).

    Many others…

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