The Ghosts of Reviewers Past

These are all comments from past reviewers of my manuscripts. Some are vehement declarations of my inadequacies as a writer, some are examples of the many ways to view an elephant, others are merely good turns of the phrase. I have assembled them for my own amusement and to remind me that opinions often differ. Many (though not all, in my opinion) of the more scathing and offensive comments had some substance behind them, but I found the presentation worthy of note.

I also present these tidbits so others, particularly beginning researchers & students, will not be too discouraged if they receive similar spleen ventings from their reviewers.

REMEMBER: If you don't like what they have to say, you can always feed them to your dog...

1992 Evolution 46:1284-1298

Reviewer 1

"You also seems [sic] unaware of other pertinent literature on selection...(Bad scholarship defaces an otherwise excellent study)"

"My general reaction to the discussion is that it reads like the first draft of a PhD. thesis... Cut this out! The discussion is schizophrenic between trying to be a good theoretician and a good empiricist testing theory." [EDBIII - yes, well, it was. But I still think it had something to offer]

"you seem to be trying to be a theoretician, but failing because you do not produce any new evolutionary ideas"

Reviewer 2

"The ms is generally well written, and the literature adequately covered and interpreted. It is an excellent manuscript well suited for publication in Evolution."

1989 Nature 342:542-543

Reviewer 1

"Brodie is being, it seems to me, positively devious when he refers only to the murky field of failed attempts...The author does not improve the paper by making innacurate claims."

Reviewer 2

"As far as I know this is the first demonstration of such a correlation."

1989 Copeia 1989 1068-1071 (Tall tails and sexy males....)

Reviewer 1

"The subtitle is quite descriptive. The main title is cute but I advise not using it."

Reviewer 2

"I enjoyed the title and hope that it is retained - some will regard it as flippant and "unscientific", others like myself will view it as witty."

1993 Evolution 47:227-235

From an earlier submission

"Brodie seems not to be aware of two studies...by Smith" [EDBIII - both cited and discussed at length]

"No proof is given that it is indeed predatory birds which are attacking the models. For all we know the clay models may be perceived as dead material...the photograph is not at all convinceing, this looks like marks left by heavy leaves falling onto the surface petiole first." [EDBIII - Right. And they leave paired marks on the underside, and fall most commonly on plain brown controls, not coral snake patterns]

From the accepted version

"this is an interesting and important manuscript, but the clumsiness of the writing makes it difficult to understand...I won't go on - I find it too irritating."

"I don't know of a way to get post hoc comparisons from a G-test and neither did our department's tame statistician" [EDBIII - both should check Sokal and Rohlf, p 728-731]

"As you can see, I feel that this paper is so poorly written that it's discourteous of the author to have submitted it for publication. I would not accept this as a term paper from an undergraduate, and I'm not sure that in my days as an editor I would have wanted to undertake the job of teaching this author to write.[EDBIII - in fairness to this reviewer the draft was overwritten, chiefly in response to inane comments to previous drafts like those shown above]"

1999 Evolution 53:626-631

"It is important for the readers to be reminded that this is an approximation, particularly now that quantitative genetics is passe."

1999 Evolution 53:1528-1535

"This paper thus suffers from the obvious problem that the result supports orthodoxy..."

1999 Bioscience 49:557-568

"I think there is a very good manuscript (or two) here but this current paper is too schizophrenic in purpose and too loosely linked to what is already known...to work as a paper" [EDB III and this is from a very positive review!]