Quotes from Peer Review 2010

Here is an excellent end-of-year list of selected quotes from referees for the journal Environmental Microbiology.
My favorites are:

  • The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about.
  • The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style.
  • I have to admit that I would have liked to reject this paper because I found the tone in the Reply to the Reviewers so annoying. It may be irritating to deal with reviewer’s comments (believe me, I know!) but it is not wise to let your irritation seep through every line you write!
  • It is sad to see so much enthusiasm and effort go into analyzing a dataset that is just not big enough.
  • Done! Difficult task, I don’t wish to think about constipation and faecal flora during my holidays! But, once a referee, always and anywhere a referee; we are good boy scouts in the research wilderness. Even under the sun and near a wonderful beach.

I wonder, is there such a thing from the signal processing literature?

A reviewer of one of our past journal papers (B. L. Sturm, J. J. Shynk, L. Daudet, and C. Roads, “Dark energy in sparse atomic estimations,” IEEE Trans. Audio, Speech, Lang. Process., vol. 16, pp. 671-676, Mar. 2008) stated,

[Your term] “dark energy” is reasonable, but a bit non-scientific or fad driven in my opinion.
I don’t have a strong objection to the ‘dark matter’ connotations (except that dark energy in a signal model is nowhere near as ubiquitous as dark matter in the universe!), but if we’re going to be theoretical astrophysicists here, I’m going to request some more careful statements throughout the manuscript!

A reviewer of one my rejected articles stated,

The proposed constraints are said to be motivated by previous work
of the authors, which this manuscript does motivate reading.

And a reviewer of another paper (B. L. Sturm, C. Roads, A. McLeran, and J. J. Shynk, “Analysis, visualization, and transformation of audio signals using dictionary-based methods,” in Proc. Int. Computer Music Conf., (Belfast, Ireland), Aug. 2008), stated in part

The visual pleasure of the reader reaches a peak in Fig. 8 …

which makes me blush.

Of course, I cannot divulge some of my peer-review statements, but
I once told a group of students at their examination, “Your final report is missing an amazing amount of bullshit. Good work.”


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