Gas station without pumps

2010 December 26

Snarky comments from reviewers

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:26
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Environmental Microbiology recently published a fun, free article “Referees’ quotes – 2010” (DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02394.x). The article consists of quotes from referee comments in the preceding year, many of them quite snarky.  For example, there is the rejection “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” and the rather depressing comment  “It is sad to see so much enthusiasm and effort go into analyzing a dataset that is just not big enough.

Read the whole set and be reassured that most of the comments you’ve gotten on your papers in the past year have been more positive.


  1. I’ve made the 2nd comment, and didn’t see it as snarky. I might not have used the word sad, but enthusiastic over analysis of too small data sets were a big problem in my field (and by too small, we’re talking data sets of n=10 that get subdivided into n’s of 2). It limits what you can do and say.

    I’ve reviewed some desperate papers where I consider the possibility that the person should not be able to submit again, but I believe in redemption, and would never suggest that a scientist be banned.

    Comment by bj — 2010 December 27 @ 08:41 | Reply

    • My field too suffers from analysis of undersized data sets, which is particularly distressing when much larger public data sets are freely available to do the same analysis on. I have rejected papers (with the admonition to redo the computation on a dataset large enough to be meaningful), which may be why that comment resonated so much for me.

      I would only ban someone for falsification of data or for plagiarism, not for simple stupidity. If we banned people from publishing because of simple stupidity, half the journals in the world would disappear overnight.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2010 December 27 @ 08:50 | Reply

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