Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An example of peer review

Dear Editor Smith,
I return the Doe et al. manuscript number 5623646 with numerous comments. In my opinion, the manuscript will not be fit for publication until all the flaws described below are corrected:

Title

The title of this paper does not reflect the sort of study which I would like to see done on this material. Please instruct the authors to change it, instead of using the title to push their own agendii.

Introduction

While the paper is nominally about solid solution in simple oxides, the narrow focus of the introduction has resulted in a failure to cite the well-known avian migration papers of Lemming et al. (2003), and Lemming and Aardvark (1998), both of which ought to be mentioned for completeness. Without tying mineral solid solution to bird migration (ibid), econometrics (Lemming and Wesson 2002), and mass spectrometry Lemming et al. 2009), the author fails to cite as wide a selection of my papers as he otherwise could. This indicates an inability to place the science in the broader context of society. Without this context, their results are neither novel nor interesting.

Methods

Like the title, the methods of this paper fail to pursue the angle of inquiry which I would have used, had I their skillsets and funding. This is obviously a serious error. Please require the authors to have done something other than the experiments whose results they are reporting. They would do well to cite Lemming et al. (2009) for the analytical procedures I prefer.

Results

In the first experiment, where the precision is twice as bad as Lemming and Stoat (2006), the data is obviously not precise enough to be worthy of presentation. The second experiment, with precision twice as good as Lemming and Stoat (2006), is obviously too good to be true, and must be the result of incorrect error propagation or outright forgery.

Discussion

Once again, the lack of citations to my unrelated papers is a serious flaw. In addition, the authors insist on drawing conclusions based on their data, and not my preconceptions of where the field was 15 years ago. Ignoring the work that they misguidedly performed renders the rest of their study irrelevant. In fact, their constraints and discussion of the experiments they DIDN’T do is practically nonexistent. This is clearly unscientific. There is a problem of nomenclature as well. The proposed mineral name in this paper is completely unacceptable. I require the authors to name their new mineral after my pet hamster instead.


While this paper is not suitable for publication in a top rate journal, it will be perfect for your rag, providing that the above revisions are undertaken.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lemming

4 comments:

Schlupp said...

I have currently two papers to review, may I please use your template, which expresses so very well all my concerns about them?

Chuck said...

Of course. Just make sure you reference all the Lemming et al. papers as per the template.

Denise said...

I hope the manuscript you are reviewing is not mine... :p

Steve Bloom said...

Funny. And yet many of the passages are evocative of the writings of Roger Pielke Sr.