Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fake Review Contest : A Summary

Today's post refers to recent posts involving the so-called Fake Review Contest, even though most of the reviews ended up being not-so-fake; they were, or were based on, real reviews that their contributors had received. Alas.

A possibly-interesting exercise, though not necessarily an uplifting one, is to see how many of the 21 submitted reviews resemble real reviews you have received. I estimate that I have received reviews similar to about half of the contest entries. I hasten to mention that this is over the course of more than 20 years of publishing papers and writing proposals; such reviews are rare, in my own experience. They do tend to be the memorable ones though.

Anyway, in the Fake Review Contest, every entry got at least one vote. Yay, everyone wins, but some more than others. Late-entry #21 (This work disagrees with several unpublished results and is unsuitable for publication in this journal or ANY OTHER ONE [sic] on the planet) is the vote leader. 

It is clear, however, that #9 (Dear Editor, In the future please waste your own time) also resonated with voters, as did #14 (These authors would be well advised to wait until my paper is published, and then they can cite it) and #17 (vague review Sent from my iPhone).

And at least 5 other entries have so far received double-digit numbers of votes.

I recently found myself writing a review and striving semi-valiantly to avoid being one of Those reviewers -- the kind who object to how their own published work is presented, who appear to be quashing an attempt by others to publish competing ideas, and who come across as patronizing and hyper-critical snobs about technical aspects of writing. I am not sure if I succeeded in avoiding those things, but perhaps one positive effect of compiling a list with so many examples of mean and unhelpful reviews was to remind me to be constructive, detailed, and as objective as possible in my own reviewing. I recommended that the paper be rejected, but at least I explained carefully and (I think) politely why I came to that conclusion. Now it is up to the editor.. a friend of the authors.


EliRabett said...

Clearly #9 wins for efficiency - ER

Anonymous said...

I am astonished at how ridiculously nasty some people are when they hide behind an anonymous curtain. I have reviewed truly horrible manuscripts that are a waste of cyberspace, paper, time, everything. Regardless, I still communicate my reviews to the authors as though they are sitting in front of me, that I am NOT anonymous, and maintain some level of civility and respect.

Anonymous said...

My boss when I wrote my first review gave me the best advice - always write a review you wouldn't mind having your name attached to.

As to editors being friends of the authors, I had one editor who would purposely send me papers where he had a conflict of interest because he trusted my judgment (in many ways, the best compliment I've ever received.)

ngp said...

Too late for the contest, but a friend of mine recently posted that she received a review containing the following comment:
"The written is not very good."

Collin said...

In the long run bad reviewers will hurt themselves -- they will not be asked to do future reviews, and lose respect of editors. The happy news is that if your work is good, it will eventually be recognized and make its way through the reviews. My work is much better for having made it through thoughtful reviewer comments, in spite of some bad apples along the way.

EliRabett said...

Dear Collin,

Reality and blogs are different places. In many cases these are the reviews we would have liked to write.