Grumpy reviewer is....

grumpy.

Honestly people. What in the hell happened to old fashioned scholarship when constructing a paper? Pub Med has removed all damn excuse you might possibly have had. Especially when the relevant literature comprises only about a dozen or two score papers.

It is not too much to expect some member of this healthy author list to have 1) read the papers and 2) understood them sufficiently to cite them PROPERLY! i.e., with some modest understanding of what is and is not demonstrated by the paper you are citing.

Who the hell is training these kids these days?

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Yes, I am literally shaking my cane.

24 responses so far

  • jw says:

    certainly goes both ways, though. i just got a paper rejected with resubmission not advised, because one reviewer totally misunderstood/did not read it, and the second reviewer thought that because my results contradict some previous literature, that i must not have read it or be aware of it--i cited recent stuff but he/she was absolutely dumbfounded that i didn't cite something from Nature in 2003, and somehow change my results to not contradict it. wtf mates.

  • Hermitage says:

    I wish I were a reviewer. I keep seeing freaking REVIEW PAPERS with a half-assed lit review and am completely dumbfounded. They don't even bother to cite other review papers to help cover their asses...irritating.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    So they didn't cite you?

  • drugmonkey says:

    I dunno about "contradict" jw but if it was relevant and needed to be integrated then you fucked up. ignoring discordant prior results is stupid and unscholarly.

    Herm- I don't think reviews should cite other review papers except to say "we're not reviewing this particular corner because those folks already did"

  • drugmonkey says:

    So they didn't cite you?

    haha. Exactly, AL, exactly.

  • eeke says:

    There is no better way to reveal yourself as the reviewer by telling the authors : dumbasses, you need to cite me (2007), me et al (1995), and me (2013).

  • drugmonkey says:

    and that is why, eeke, it is always advised to maintain proper scholarship in your reviews as well. I suggest mentioning at least three different labs for any given point you wish them to address. that is, if you feel the need to point to specific papers.

  • Busy says:

    Hey, if you got asked to review the paper it is quite likely because me (2007), me et al. (1995) and me (2013) are very much on topic and likely at least one of them should have been cited. That's why the editor chose *you*.

    Here's a quick way to tell if the authors didn't do a proper literature survey: there should be several papers by *other* authors that were equally relevant and were not cited.

    I once reviewed a paper that hadn't cited very relevant work of mine, so I started looking for what else they've missed (I hadn't kept up with the literature since my original paper, hence the need for a search). I quickly found two other papers by another group that clearly should have been cited. Then the clincher: I found a third paper by yet another group which completely scooped the current paper. That was an easy reject, including the advice "cite all four papers and rephrase contributions away from originality and into 'we confirm the results of [third paper]' "

  • drugmonkey says:

    I found a third paper by yet another group which completely scooped the current paper.

    It is a whole different type of annoying (to me) when it is clear that the authors were motivated to pretend not to know about other papers because it would diminish their claim to originality or priority.

  • It is a whole different type of annoying (to me) when it is clear that the authors were motivated to pretend not to know about other papers because it would diminish their claim to originality or priority.

    I'm surprised people bother with that at the sub-dump journals you typically review for.

  • NIH Budget Cutter says:

    It's about time one of you guys realized that most of the recent stuff on Pubmed is **junk** science. Peer review has become a joke. Whether you like to admit or not, there is simply too much NIH-funded mediocrity around. Therefore, let's continue slashing the NIH budget to trim all these unneeded fat.

  • Grumble says:

    Harsh, CPP. As the old saying goes:

    "Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small."

  • Grumble says:

    You must be a genius, Budget Cutter!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I know CPP, it's kind of amazing isn't it? People wanting credit for being first to report something. Crazy.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    In this kind of situation it is kinda hilarious to me that people get pissy about priority. Small stakes, first of all since everyone can claim to be on the first few labs to do X. Who cares who published two months earlier when anyone can see it takes six to twelve months to do the study? Obviously lots of people thought it would be interesting to look into X and a handful actually did some work.

    I figure you should just cite everything. Heck, even email your usual suspects to see if they have anything you didn't know about yet! Cite that. In press, ePub, whatever. Then you look scholarly...not ignorant, not like a petty douche and not like a lazy ass. You want to win the respect game? Publish better papers or more of them.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I also crack the hell up when people write shit like "Doe and Blough, 2012 confirmed our 2010 paper...." when the first paper was light and the D&B one nailed down everything in sight about the topic....of course the better one gets cited more and all the reminders of priority do is make you look assy.

  • Mike says:

    I also crack the hell up when people write shit like "Doe and Blough, 2012 confirmed our 2010 paper...." when the first paper was light and the D&B one nailed down everything in sight about the topic....of course the better one gets cited more and all the reminders of priority do is make you look assay.

    I think if you come from a small lab and published something limited, and it was later "nailed down" by people with much more resources, it's understandable to see it that way. Maybe just because that was my situation...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Okay, I can sort of see your point but....um, too bad. There is always a bigger fish?

  • Beaker says:

    @Grumble. "Vicious. Hit me with a flower...

  • The Other Dave says:

    If you want to get cited, you've got to write a good abstract. Since the rise of PubMed, the abstract is undoubtedly the most important part of your paper. It is advertisement for your paper. It should be a complete summary of your paper. It may very well be all anyone reads -- ever. Make it clear. Make it useful. Make it beg to be cited.

    I am amazed at the number of people that waffle around in their abstract about why they did some study and blah blah and end with some bullshit like 'various factors were examined and significant differences noted. Comparisons with previous studies were made.' Even if someone stays awake to the end of the thing, there is no useful information anyway. it won't be read or cited.

    You don't write stupid abstracts like that, do you DM?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Me? No. Very straightforward abstract writer, I.

  • Geologist says:

    This problem is not confined to pubmed. I am currently reviewing a paper where the authors read about 3 prior papers on the subject, incorrectly cited themselves (!!) and come off as incredibly lazy.

    People, Please take the time to do your homework!! Your results are meaningless if you can't correctly put them in context to what has been done before!!!

    Argh!!!! Me grumpy too!!

  • jw says:

    hey DM
    in my case, i cited recent reviews of the subject. this had to do with terrestrial carbon cycling under high ozone, one of several climate change factors in my study for which i had to fit in the background and discuss how my results supported or did not support the literature to date. the reviews i cited may not have included the one reviewer's work, i don't know, but there has been a metric shit ton of studies before and since his one in Nature, which was in a different system than mine (forest vs perennial grasses, and one of my points is how they don't necessarily respond in the same way), so i don't feel like i fucked up to not include it or even be aware of it.

    part of my premise is that most of the big big experimental set ups for climate change, with HUGE $$$, are actually crappy ways to study climate change (which i tried to suggest with grace and politeness, along with decent scientific support), so i think someone was just feeling threatened. who the heck knows.

    are we supposed to fit a full lit review in every data paper now?

  • drugmonkey says:

    are we supposed to fit a full lit review in every data paper now?

    Not at all. First, best and last is a fine starting approach. Reviews should be cited sparingly. If the majority of your Introductory and Discussion remarks are best cited by a review, I would suggest you are not writing specifically enough.

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