Now, I have some issues with referees as you’d expect from someone who’s been trying to publish a paper for two years, and I’ve not had the best experiences to be honest.
I’ve had a referee completely misunderstand RT-PCR. It’s basically a method for seeing which genes are expressed, that is it; and that is all we wanted to use it for, to narrow down our options from 13 potential targets. But this chump was adamant that it was quantitative, and we were ignoring these clear differences. Even when we explained that it wasn’t quantitative, and that we only carried it out to see which genes were expressed, they just ignored it and complained about it again. I’m not saying it’s as bad as anti-vax statistics, but it’s pretty close…
I’ve been told that our paper wasn’t novel, despite showing a mechanism that no-one has ever seen before. I know no-one has seen it before, because it’s literally my job to know that. They basically went “A causes B, and we know that C causes D, and all you’ve done it show that they are linked”.
I have had a grant rejected because people already know what PLCs do in insulin resistance, when we applied to investigate PKCs. I mean what can you do with that?! It’s an entire different family of proteins. Obviously you lose novelty if you just decide that investigators want to look at completely different things!
And to top it all off I’ve been called Dr Alexander a fair few times. If someone can’t even understand my name I’m fairly certain they can’t be trusted to understand my science.
Bearing that in mind you can see why I couldn’t wait to be a jerk to someone else’s paper, right? Obviously I won’t tell you which journal or anything it was in, but it’s a higher impact that anything I have published in. So, you’d expect it to be good, hey?
It really, really wasn’t.
They missed out control experiments, hid several bits of data, cited their own “Manuscript under review” to back up their conclusions. They even contradicted their own paper that they had just published. They also used a marker for insulin resistance that me and others have shown is inappropriate. As well as using that pesky RT-PCR, but at least they understood how.
I wanted to be a right jerk, but I wasn’t sure if I was just bitter. So, I was “nice” about it. However, my supervisor agreed with all of my criticisms. We sent off a great big “hell no!” and a couple of days later we got to see the other referee’s comments. Now, they take being a jerk to a whole new level. They echoed almost everything we said, but with a heaping scoop of anger and poison.
In the end, it was actually quite comforting to know that my input and comments were valid, and that my belief that this paper wasn’t good was justified. However, you best beware I’m not refereeing your next paper as now I know how mean I can really be!
Today’s quote is from John R. Lindensmith