Friday, September 16, 2011

Intro to Academia

As most of you know if you have been following my blog for any amount of time, I just started my first year in grad school this past month. One of my classes is Proseminar, which is basically like Intro to Grad School. This past Tuesday we discussed the business that is publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Now, don't go to sleep on me yet! I know those journals may not bring up fond memories for some of you. But, the prof gave us this little jewel that I wanted to share with you.

Seriously-- read it. It's hilarious!

Prof. Art Kives
Journal of Overblown Results

Dear Dr. Kives:

Enclosed is our latest version of MS # 85-02-022-RRRRR, that is, the re-re-re-revised version of our paper. Choke on it. We have again rewritten the entire manuscript from start to finish. We even changed the damned running head! Hopefully we have suffered enough by now to satisfy even your bloodthirsty reviewers. I shall skip the usual point-by-point description of every single change we made in response to the critiques. After all, it is fairly clear that your reviewers are less interested in details of scientific procedure than in working out their personality problems and sexual frustrations by seeking some sort of demented glee in the sadistic and arbitrary exercise of tyrannical power over hapless authors like ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches.

We do understand that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths you have on your editorial board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren't reviewing manuscripts they'd probably be out mugging old ladies or clubbing baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviews, reviewer C was clearly the most hostile, and we request that you not ask her or him to review this revision. Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four or five people we suspected of being reviewer C, so if you send the manuscript back to them the review process could be unduly delayed. Some of the reviewers comments we couldn't do anything about. For example, if (as reviewer C suggested), several of my ancestry were indeed drawn from another species, it is too late to change that. Other suggestions were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and benefited. Thus, you suggested that we shorten the manuscript by 5 pages, and we were able to do this very effectively by altering the margins and printing the paper in a different font with a smaller typeface. We agree with you that the paper is much better this way. One perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions # 13-28 by reviewer B. As you may recall (that is, if you even bother reading the reviews before doing your decision letter), that review listed 16 works that he / she felt we should cite in this paper. These were on a variety of different topics, none of which had any relevance to our work that we could see. Indeed, one was an essay on the Spanish-American War from a high school literary magazine. The only common thread was that all 16 were by the same author, presumably someone reviewer B greatly admires and feels should be more widely cited . To handle this, we have modified the introduction and added, after the review of relevant literature, a subsection entitled "Review of Irrelevant Literature" that discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the more asinine suggestions by other reviewers.

We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and finally recognize how urgently deserving of publication this work is. If not, then you are an unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human decency. You ought to be in a cage. May whatever heritage you come from be the butt of the next round of ethnic jokes. If you do accept it, however, we wish to thank you for your patience and wisdom throughout this process and to express our appreciation of your scholarly insights. To repay you, we would be happy to review some manuscripts for you; please send us the next manuscript that any of these reviewers sends to your journal. Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked this paper much better the way we originally wrote it but you held the editorial shotgun to our heads and forced us to chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge, expand, shorten, and in general convert a meaty paper into stir-fried vegetables. We couldn't or wouldn't, have done it without your input.
Iam Grantless
Dear Dr. Grantless:
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my decision letter concerning the above-referenced piece of excrement. I have asked several experts who specialize in the area of research you dabble in to have a look at your pathetic little submission, and their reviews are enclosed. I shall not waste my LaserJet ink reiterating the details of their reviews, but please allow me to highlight some of the more urgent points of contention they raise:
1. Reviewer A suggests that you cite his work EXCLUSIVELY in the introduction. He has asked me to remind you that he spells his name with a final "e" (ie, Scumbage), not as you have referenced him in the last version.
2. Reviewer C indicates that the discussion can be shortened by at least 5 pages. Given the fact that the present Discussion is only three pages long, I am not certain how to advise you. Perhaps you might consider eliminating all speculation and original ideas.
3. Reviewer D has asked that you consider adding her as a co-author. Although she has not directly contributed to the manuscript, she has made ​​numerous comments that have, in her view, significantly improved the paper. Specifically, she believes that her suggestions concerning the reorganization of the acknowledgments paragraph were especially important. Please note that she spells her name with an em-dash, and not with the customary hyphen.
4. Reviewer B has asked that I inform you that, even though his suggestions were not mentioned in my decision letter, this doesn't mean that he is an imbecile.
5. My own reading of the manuscript indicates that the following problems remain:
a. By "running head," we do not mean a picture of your son's face with legs attached. Please provide a four-or five-word title for the paper that summarizes the report's most important point. May I suggest, "Much Ado About Nothing "?
b. Please make certain that you have adhered to APA stylebook guidelines for publication format. Please direct your attention to the section entitled, "Proper Format for an Insignificant Paper" (1995, p.46).
c. Please submit any revision of the paper on plain, blank stationery. Submitting the article on Yale University letterhead will not increase your chances of having the article accepted for publication.
d. Please double-check the manuscript for spelling and grammatical errors. Our experience at the Archives is that "cycle-logical" slips through most spell-check programs undetected.
e. Although I am not a quantitative scientist, it is my understanding that the "F" in F-test does not stand for a 4-letter word. Please correct the manuscript accordingly.
Yours Sincerely,

Prof. Art Kives

PS If your original submission had been as articulate as your most recent letter, we might have avoided this interchange. It is too bad that tenure and promotion committees at your university do not have access to authors' correspondence with editors, for it is clear that you would be promoted on the basis of your wit alone. Unfortunately, it's the publication that counts, and I'm sorry to say that the Archives is not prepared to accept this revision. We would be perfectly ambivalent about receiving a ninth revision from you .

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