Meta comments – and some rude ones

It’s difficult to find time to write with some reasonable estimation of quality on a variety of topics in which I’m interested. I’ve meant to write about the Tour de France, the confirmation process of Sonia Sotomayor, and a variety of scientific topics. One difficulty I’ve found is not being able to discuss my work in a meaningful manner on an informal website such as this. I prefer to let my formal talks and (hopefully soon) published papers to communicate interesting results or explored ideas, and I think that peer reviewed science is still the best model, despite something so seductively democratic as the arXiv model of publication, which would be a nightmare to sort through. So there’s an apparent lack of science-related stuff on here, simply for these reasons.

One thing I think I can write about, briefly, is the publication process that I’m currently learning about for the first time in my scientific career. I recently submitted a manuscript with two collaborators to a journal that specializes in computational science, and it was out for peer review about a month ago. We recently received comments back from just the first of two external reviewers, who are not affiliated with the journal directly but presumably experts in the area of research that we are in.

For this first reviewer, the respectfulness of the written comments and questions was greatly appreciated, and I proceeded to incorporate changes and answer questions from that reviewer. The second reviewer apparently did not submit comments to the authors (us), but upon inquiring about this, it turns out that the second reviewer simply did not fill out the review form correctly and the comments to the editors were allowed to be forwarded. The tone of the comments was more caustic, almost accusatory, though there were several valuable points that were made. The reviewer made a few comments that were not at all constructive, simply providing an opinion without any possible suggestions for meeting his or her otherwise arbitrary criteria. I refrain from giving examples here due to confidentiality. Finally, the reviewer was simply wrong about the guidelines of the journal itself in at least one comment that was made, which makes satisfactory revision on this point impossible. Given the tone of this reviewer’s argument, I expect a difficult task in appeasing him or her for the revised submission.

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