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Peer review – an emotional roller coaster

Every publishing scientist is aware of the emotional roller coaster that goes along with peer review. The “highlight” is, of course, that first reading of referees’ reports.

Classically, there will be three referees.

  • One will be very positive, recommending publication – but clearly may not have even read the paper let alone thought about it.
  • Another will be scathingly critical, perhaps even personally abusive, and recommend against publication. And maybe they haven’t spent much time on the paper either.
  • The third (if you are lucky) will be thoughtful, full of detailed comments and probably recommend publication – but only after the comments have been considered and accommodated.

But we all dread the report which recommends against publication – ever! Which denies any worth to the content of the paper.

Understandably authors can also react harshly towards referees. I once witnessed an author threaten a referee with legal action for defamation!

Although I haven’t seen anything quite this extreme. This is of course a dubbed version portraying Hitler as a senior author being told of referee’s comments on one of his papers!

Thanks to Simon Greenhill at Peer Review 1945 – HENRY.


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