Peer fortress: The scientific battlefield

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For young scientists, peer review can be a frustrating process.

(Actually, it's frustrating for older ones too.)

While peer review tends to work well in the long run, its quirks and oddities can bewilder in the short run.

Sometimes, it's so absurd that all you can do is laugh (and try again).

As with students, it turns out that there are nine kinds of peer reviewers too.

Feeling gloomy about your latest reviews?

Re-read them in light of the classes below.

Lick your wounds.

And, then try again. (And again.)

The Soldier

Not an expert in your area, but not ill-equipped to understand it, the Soldier will plod through to produce an honest and (mostly) correct review.

But, not being an expert in your area, they won't have much passion; they won't argue strongly for acceptance or rejection.

They'll fall in line with the experts.

Most reviewers are soldiers.

The Heavy Weapons Guy

Hates your paper.
Loves your paper.

The Heavy Weapons Specialist is the expert in your area.

They will either champion your paper or eviscerate it.

Whatever they unleash, it will be intense, focused and unstoppable.

The Demoman

Right from the title, the Demoman knew your paper had to be rejected.

If the review must exceed the length of your manuscript to accomplish this, so be it. Your paper is simply too dangerous to publish.

It must, and will, be stopped.

More a treatise on your incompetence than a traditional peer review, this tome leaves no nit unpicked.

Papers that receive the Demoman's gentle touch must be identified through dental records.

The Sniper

The Sniper reads only until the first (perceived) mistake.

Headshot. Reject. Next.

The Medic

The Medic wanted to save your paper.

But, they ended up killing the patient.

Rife with suggestions for improvement, the Medic's review somberly concludes that "even though I enjoyed the paper, it would be premature to publish these results at this time."

The Engineer

Engineers love experimentation.

In fact, the Engineer never met a paper that couldn't do with more.

"It's a promising idea, but your experiments are inadequate."

The Scout

The Scout delivers a flawless summary of your abstract.

The Spy

The Spy is working on exactly the same problem.

Remarkably, they had the same idea for a solution.

Fear not--your idea will appear in print!

Just not with your name on it.

The Pyro

Reviews from Pyros need to be held in oven mitts.

Your topic is out of scope.

Your writing is terrible.

Your problem is not worth solving.

Your idea sucks.

Your solution doesn't work.

Your theory is broken.

Your experiments are hopelessly flawed.

Plus, you're duplicating the classic result from [Smith and Jones, 1955].


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