Response to Reviewers

Ahhhh. Playing the game in science. The differences between what we want to say and what we do say. Take for example your response to reviewers. Often what we would like to say goes something like this,

Dear Fuckwit,

I sincerely hope that you are still able to read this, despite the fact that your head is clearly shoved up your own anus to immeasurable depths. While I understand that this must be a terribly painful and distracting affliction, I am afraid that I can not accept the impact that this condition is having upon my recent submission to your journal. It appears this unfortunate condition has caused you to write a review of my submitted manuscript without actually reading it (granted, reading a manuscript from within the confines of your anus would be exceedingly difficult).

It is also clear from your review that you suffer from delusions of grandeur. I am unsure what journal you *think* you work for but rest assured, had I determined and proved the precise mechanism of a fundamental cellular process I would be aiming a little higher than the Journal of Modest Impact. This is why I originally thought that my paper of modest impact would be perfect for the Journal of Modest Impact.

Finally, while I would be more than happy to address any valid concerns that you may have, I would prefer to address concerns that relate to my submitted manuscript rather than the imaginary manuscript for which you appear to have written suggestions. I completely agree however, your imaginary manuscript sounds like it would be a riveting study and I would be keen to hear in the future if anyone manages to pull such a time-intensive and tangental study out of thin air and publish it. Please keep me posted.

As per the reasons outlined above, namely head-up-your-ass-itis, delusions of grandeur and the failure to read my manuscript, I politely ask that you reconsider my manuscript for the Journal of Modest Impact.

Wondering Why I Bother

And it seems that upon rejection I swing wildly between emotions going from outrage to fear to depression to complete loss of pride. Unfortunately, this last stage can be rather….er….ugly….to witness, often causing observers to squirm uncomfortably as one does watching someone beg reality tv judges to be voted “on”, wishing someone would change the channel. At this point it becomes apparent that groveling is the only reasonable option and a second draft of the letter looks something like this,

Dear Journal God,

It is clear from your recent review of my manuscript that I am suffering from a terrible affliction. My head is shoved so far up my ass that I became delusional and thought that my lowly research was appropriate for your Journal of Awesomeness.

Your suggestions for revisions were all exceptionally astute. Clearly, given the state of my submitted manuscript, I am woefully inept. I hope that you will take this into consideration when you review the pathetic attempts at these revisions that I am resubmitting to you now.

I know that I am a mere mortal in the presence of Greatness and accordingly, I sincerely appreciate that you are even reading this letter.

Wondering Why I Bother

Luckily I can usually shake some sense into myself and refrain from hitting the “send” button. Rather, I divine that the only possible thing to do is to make it appear as though I did something. If I may toot my own horn for a moment, this is where my talents really shine. And thus, in the end the letter seems to end up something like this,

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the timely review of my submitted manuscript. I very much appreciated the insightful comments from the reviewers and have made revisions accordingly. I would, however, like to make some thinly veiled criticisms of the reviewer with the least favourable comments in the hopes that you will give less weight to their opinion.

In an attempt to make it look like I have addressed the reviewers concerns I have added a control figure that we had already completed, but excluded from the original manuscript in the hopes that this glaring omission would distract you from requesting data that we should have included but never obtained. This addresses one out of five of the reviewers concerns.

I have also edited the manuscript to state my claims less strongly, thus refuting the reviewers opinion that my claims are unsubstantiated. Now I am barely making any claims at all, substantiated or otherwise. I think you will be quite impressed by the adeptness with which I word smithed the manuscript to the extent that it sounds like I am making an important point when in reality I have simply avoided saying anything at all. I think you will agree, this really adds to the quality of science that is put out there.

Finally, please enjoy this series of hand waving gestures, bright shiny things and song-and-dance routines designed to distract you from the fact that I left three of the five reviewers concerns unaddressed. I would also like to take this time to remind you that you and I are buddies from some meeting that we went to ten years ago and it would be really great if you could help a brotha’ out.

Something Colloquial To Remind You That We’re Buddies,
Still Really Wondering Why I Bother

Yup. That last one looks about right…….Send!

This entry was posted in Academia, Humour, Science Writing/Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Response to Reviewers

  1. Jodi says:

    Have you been told lately that you are really weird? No? Okay, it’s time then. You’re definitely a nutbar. Admitedly you’re a lovable nutcase but a kook just the same.

    • Sharon says:

      I keep coming back to read this as I struggle through my response to reviewers and crack up laughing every time!

  2. missphd says:

    It probably serves as a more realistic template than the most recent entry about how to write 🙂

  3. Maria says:


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