A can't-miss inquiry to Editor following the initial review of your paper

Jul 23 2014 Published by under Careerism, Conduct of Science, Peer Review

Dear Editor Whitehare,

Do you really expect us to complete the additional experiments that Reviewer #3 insisted were necessary? You DO realize that if we did those experiments the paper would be upgraded enough that we sure as hell would be submitting it upstream of your raggedy ass publication, right?

Collegially,
The Authors

22 responses so far

  • dr24hours says:

    I strongly encourage this letter. Please advise of results. Also, "Whitehare"?

  • JD says:

    spot on.

    Going through exactly this scenario as we speak, with a paper that my former postdoc finally wrote up for submission to an IF 3.0 journal.

    The manuscript/project is an orphan. No one is going to do additional experiments on this one, no matter what the reviewer said. But something about the editor's 'minor revision' acceptance makes me think he woudl be ok with just a rebuttal.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Also, "Whitehare"?

    Some are of the opinion that Professor Greybeard and Professor Bluehair are unnecessarily gendered. I'm testing alternatives.

  • drugmonkey says:

    But something about the editor's 'minor revision' acceptance makes me think he would be ok with just a rebuttal.

    Undoubtedly. And if not there, the next ~3ish JIF journal will take it.

  • Dave says:

    I'm literally in the same boat right now. The journal has a nice IF of 8.5, so it's worth the additional work to me. But to be fair, the editor did indirectly de-emphasize the need to do the experiments, but for safety I wanted to give most of them a shot. What cracks me up is that apparently I'm supposed to do all the experiments in 2 months. I'm already at 3 months, and have probably one month to go. They don't seem to care.

    However, there is a nagging feeling that perhaps we undersold our paper since this was the first ever submission of the manuscript.

  • drugmonkey says:

    the editor did indirectly de-emphasize the need to do the experiments

    Giving the editor a couple of experiments out of many demanded is often sufficient.

    Especially when they go out of their way to address it in a way that suggests they do not agree with the reviewer demands.

  • mytchondria says:

    But look at how fuckken smart I was to think of those next step experiments! I know Dr. Whitehare loves me more than he loves you anyway. -- Reviewer 3

  • dr24hours says:

    "I'm testing alternatives." Ahh. Got it. Carry on.

  • In these situations, I always pre-negotiate with the editor concerning what reviewer-suggested experiments they are really going to require. At least at the kinds of journal my lab publishes in, editors are almost always happy to do this. Maybe it's different in the sub-dump hellholes you guys are talking about, though?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Probably the real scientist editors at real journals don't have time to hold the hands of PIs who can't figure out for themselves which are the necessary experiments and which are not.

    Luckily for people who can't manage, the professional editors are happy to step in and do your job for you, PP.

  • imager says:

    Why start with IF of 8.5 when you can try it at IF of 32...?
    Unless you have someone on your trail and/or need it out for grants or the said paper asap.

  • Dave says:

    Why start with IF of 8.5 when you can try it at IF of 32...?

    In this case it was because I really wanted it to be in a specific journal that I thought would be the best home for the paper, and where I thought it would get the maximum exposure to the labs that I wanted to see it. In this case, it just so happens that the IF of the journal is 8.5. I'm willing to concede that we may have undersold a little, but I still think this journal is the ideal fit for the paper.

  • Dave says:

    In these situations, I always pre-negotiate with the editor concerning what reviewer-suggested experiments they are really going to require

    Interesting because my mentor advised me against doing this when my instinct was to seek more clarity on which specific experiments were essential, and which were not. I chose not to do it and just get the experiments done while reading between the lines of the editors letter. This journal has working scientists as editors, if that changes anything.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It changes everything.

  • JD says:

    Sorry, but this 'pre-negotiating' sounds ridiculous and stupid to me - whether or not the editors are active laboratory scientists.

  • E-roock says:

    I have never heard of this practice. How does one initiate that conversation? I've submitted presub inquiries (formal and simple email) just to make sure it won't be editorially rejected and I don't waste time formatting. It make my ethics bell go off. I bet if I tried that, they'd think "who the hell dies this twerp think he is?" Or just delete email without a second thought like spam.

  • Dave says:

    I don't think it's ridiculous. When you are committing to months of extra work at great expense, I think it is more than reasonable to seek some clarification. I think it is probably better if you are a BSD (which is why I ultimately didn't do it), but it should be on the table. Editors could avoid this issue completely if they made a habit of actually vetting what reviewers ask for experimentally and passing their thoughts on to the authors, but that seems to be rather rare.

  • I have even had editors relay my proposed plan for experimentally addressing reviewer concerns to the reviewers themselves to get feedback, and then relay that feedback to me. How on earth could any of this possibly be "unethical"??? All it is doing is clarifying what the reviewers really expect.

  • hediye says:

    Giving the editor a couple of experiments out of many demanded is often sufficient.

  • E-roock says:

    I see. So you mean, after initial review, telling the editor what you plan, and getting the green light before proceeding with resources/work. Totally reasonable and wise. I thought you meant you were pre negotiating what reviewers could require before the initial submission, which seemed bizzaro world to me.

  • Dave says:

    I thought you meant you were pre negotiating what reviewers could require before the initial submission, which seemed bizzaro world to me.

    I had a feeling this is what you were angry about, ha! That would be awesome, if true, but even CPP can't do that.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    I got a better one: we are getting all sorts if crap, but from the style editor! Yes, the manuscript is accepted, but the style editor is demanding that we change the statistical analysis and complaining that some of the numbers on the results section need to be explained further. Somehow the labels on the axes don't have the right number of significant digits for this editor. Ha ha.

    All of this for a journal with IF below 4.0.

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