Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Year in Reviews

 No kidding, three people sent this one to me today. I can see why. It's fantastic. It's a review of peer reviews. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Alfachetoglutarate
  • Season's Greetings! I apologise for my slow response but a roast goose prevented me from answering emails for a few days.
  •  I started to review this but could not get much past the abstract.
  • I suppose that I should be happy that I don't have to spend a lot of time reviewing this dreadful paper; however I am depressed that people are performing such bad science.
  •  I feel like a curmudgeon, but I still have problems with this paper.
  • Preliminary and intriguing results that should be published elsewhere.
  • Reject – More holes than my grandad's string vest!

Read the complete list here:
Referees' quotes - 2010. (2010) Environmental Microbiology: 12(12), 3303-3304. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02394.x) or click HERE

Having so thoroughly enjoyed this list I looked to see if there were any more. As it turns out the same journal publishes this type of list annually. I freely admit that I like the negative reviews best, you gotta admit they are the funniest. Here are a few of my favorites from years past, and at the end is the references/links so you can read the complete lists.

From 2009:
  • Some self citations may be easily taken out without harming the paper.
  • The peaceful atmosphere between Christmas and New Year was transiently disrupted by reading this manuscript.
  • Ribosomes do not contain DNA.
  • Page 3, line 28 –‘arqueobacteria’?
  • I am afraid this current version looks too much like another manuscript saying ‘gee whiz we looked in a strange place and found some new microbes’.
  • The writing style is flowery and has an air of Oscar Wilde about it.
  • The trees are crap but, besides this, excellent work.
From 2008:
  • Mouldy bread. Unfortunately there are too many technical flaws in this one. Too bad because the potential was high.
  • Great organism. Great scientists. Terrible manuscript.
  • I am fed up with people ignoring totally the instructions for authors.
  • The Abstract describes results that I could not find in the Results section.
  • I wonder if you and I do not have better things to do than help people who can't help themselves.
  • They were not the first to have done this, but they don't seem to know that.
  • I have found this ms. boring to death.
  • ‘Hijacked’ is a very dramatic word; maybe the bacteria are more polite with their biosynthesis.
  • Page X, line Y claims both ‘rare’ and ‘unusual.’ Madonna and Tony Blair might use both in the same sentence.
From 2007:
  • I felt like I was teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Accept with minor revision.
  • The paper is full of wild speculation linked by a few random experiments.
  • A bad paper containing a good idea.
  • Hundreds of commas are missing!
  • A highly relevant, beautifully and concisely written cross-disciplinary report that unfortunately comes with a dull abstract.
  • Use of the term remarkably borders on dramatization.
  • For this crucial initial step, authors behaved like a cook who is in charge of preparing an ‘haute cuisine’ meal for the 40th wedding anniversary for 100 guests and consults the first cookbook for kiddies to get some idea.
  • I nearly said reject. But then I recalled that I have a hangover and I am feeling grumpy.
 From 2006:
  • I have taken out my earlier comment that the authors retake Chemistry 101, that is probably not allowable.
  • The authors assume. . . . All assumptions are wrong.
  • The authors need to remember that adverbs in English tend to end in -ly.
  • The work is basically sound but unfortunately the presentation is a bit of a dog's breakfast.
  • This is an essentially unreadable paper sent to the wrong journal.
  • Fig. 1a looks a bit hand-drawn, 1b has more axes than display area.
  • There is no apparent study concept other than ‘we went out to the campus pond one day and took 2 samples for sequencing’.
From 2005:
  • This is depressing! So much work with so little science.
  • They have no clue what they write about.
  • The authors are quite creative in using different statistical approaches.
  • This paper is the very expression of what happens when one tries to chop up one piece of work into as many publications as possible.
  • Why don’t the percentages . . . add up to 100%?
  • Almost all references used by the authors are from the last century.

Since I'm only posting a subset of each list I went ahead and looked at 5 years. There are more, and they get addictive once you start reading. So if you like them then look up some more, they are always published in the last issue of December. Have fun!

Referees' quotes - 2009. (2009) Environmental Microbiology: 11(12), 3309-3310. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.02120.x) or click HERE

Referees' quotes - 2008. (2008) Environmental Microbiology: 10(12), 3425-3426. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01813.x) or click HERE

Referees' quotes - 2007. (2007) Environmental Microbiology: 9(12), 3153-3154.(DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01484.x) or click HERE

Referees' quotes - 2006. (2006) Environmental Microbiology: 8(12), 2233-2234. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2006.01157.x) or click HERE

Referees' quotes - 2006. (2005) Environmental Microbiology: 7(12), 2036. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2005.00953.x) or click HERE

(image from cellbiochem.ca)
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