There is a problem with the lack of transparency for a general audience in the peer review process. However, the Journal of Environmental Microbiology has bucked the trend and published its most original comments by reviewers for the year. There are some amazing put downs, and shows that scientists definitely do have a good sense of humour. Here are my pick of the comments published:
- Done! Difficult task, I don’t wish to think about constipation and faecal flora during my holidays! But, once a referee, always and anywhere a referee; we are good boy scouts in the research wilderness. Even under the sun and near a wonderful beach.
- This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author’s email ID so they can’t use the online system in future.
- The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style.
- Ken, I would suggest that EM is setting up a fund that pays for the red wine reviewers may need to digest manuscripts like this one. (Ed: this excellent suggestion was duly proposed to the Publisher. However, given the logistical difficulties of problem-solving within narrow time frames, combined with the known deleterious effect of transport on good wine, a modification of the remedy was adopted, namely that Editors would act as proxies for reviewers with said digestive complaints.)
- Always dear EMI takes care of its referees, providing them with entertainment for the holiday time in between Xmas and New Year. Plus the server shows, as usual, its inhuman nature and continues to send reminding messages. Well, between playing tennis on the Wii, eating and drinking, I found time and some strength of mind to do this work.
- Reject – More holes than my grandad’s string vest!
And my personal pick of the bunch:
- 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.
This is a very good fun read, and does enable a view at the hidden world of peer review. However, the irony is that it is not an open source paper. So only those with subscriptions or institutional access will be able to take a peek through the window into this humorous world.
Full paper found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02394.x/abstract