Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peer Review, Again

Peer review can be exasperating, but also fun. A while ago I reposted some amusing reviewer comments from the journal "Environmental Microbiology". Well, just after that we submitted a paper for which one reviewer was raving about the work and the other thought it boring - chalk and cheese it was.

Of course I can't repost the above anonymous reviews here. But I thought it would be fun to compose two reviews myself, the first scathing and the other glowing.  Although fictitious, they are composed of actual reviewer comments about our manuscripts submitted over the last year or so. (And, yes, one of the reviewers, who presumably has a Ph.D., does spell the word "know" as "no".)

Reviewer I.

 Essentially, the paper either tells us what we already know, or makes novel assertions which are uncheckable and based on needless ad-hoc-erie. The authors should change the tone of their paper to be constructive rather than "criticizing" the work of other people - by comparing to such works (sic), the authors are doing themselves a disservice, as they should no (sic) that is really no longer acceptable. This submission will not help the reputations of any of the coauthors as it is really not at the level one would expect for three of the main authors. They should all provide a bit more guidance, mentorship and advise (sic)  to the apparently junior author, in the opinion of the review (sic) who is very familiar with the very nice high quality publications of Smith. The impression left on this reviewer is one of being cheated, as if only the first half of a fine review article was provided. Poorly designed and provides only trivial results, if any. The ball-and-spring model is too simplistic and I do not think that any of the conclusions can be reliable.

Reviewer II.

An important and sorely-needed contribution to the field and will have an impact, or should have, not only on practical strain development, but also in basic research into microbial physiology. The approach stimulates new ideas, is interesting and very promising judging from the results exposed in this manuscript.  The paper is clearly written, well executed, and richly supported by an abundance of supplemental materials. The work is thorough, complete and well written. This interesting paper provides new insights and suggests a scheme which has many interesting elements and should make an important contribution to the field. In summary, this manuscript is an important physical contribution to our understanding of conformational transitions in proteins.This is an outstanding piece of work: an exciting and unexpected discovery that may also be of importance to other biocatalysts. It is an important step towards interpreting neutron scattering data and obtaining quantitative agreement between MD results and neutron data. The simulations are carried out competently, the mathematical analysis is thorough, the results appear to be of very high quality and the presentation is clear. The work should be of general interest for all kinds of organisms. It provides a good example of this type of approach and has been carefully performed –

Hmm...accept or reject, I wonder?

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