Peer Review May Increase Mortality Rates

A special hat tip to Twisted Bacteria for bringing this to my attention

Every December, the journal Environmental Microbiology publishes a collection of humorous quotes made by peer reviewers while assessing manuscripts submitted to the journal.

You can read some favorites over there.  Some of mine are:

  • The lack of negative controls. . . . results in the authors being lost in the funhouse. Unfortunately, I do not think they even realize this.
  • Preliminary and intriguing results that should be published elsewhere.
  • I suppose that I should be happy that I don’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing this dreadful paper; however I am depressed that people are performing such bad science.
  • I agreed to review this Ms whilst answering e-mails in the golden glow of a balmy evening on the terrace of our holiday hotel on Lake Como. Back in the harsh light of reality in Belfast I realize that it’s just on the limit of my comfort zone and that it would probably have been better not to have volunteered.
  • The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style.

Editor (2010). Referees’ quotes – 2010 Environmental Microbiology, 12 (12), 3303-3304 DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02394.x

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

3 comments on “Peer Review May Increase Mortality Rates
  1. I quite like this one:

    “This is a long, but excellent report. I had considered asking for EMSAs, but these will not significantly improve the study. It hurts me a little to have so little criticism of a manuscript.”

  2. I liked the one which went roughly that the journal should pony up enough wine to enable me to stomach this drek.

  3. This one is my favorite!

    “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.”

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