Empirical analysis tells Reviewer 2: “Go F’ Yourself”

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Empirical analysis tells Reviewer 2: “Go F’ Yourself”

Post by IceCube » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:06 pm

Peer review is often the key hurdle between obtaining some data and getting it published in the scientific literature. As such, it's often essential to keeping questionable results out of the scientific literature. But for vast numbers of scientists with solid-but-unexciting results, it can be a hurdle that raises frustrations to thermonuclear levels. So it's no surprise that many scientists privately wish that certain reviewers would end up engaged in activities that aren't mentionable in a largely family-friendly publication like Ars.

What was a surprise was to see a peer-reviewed publication make this wish public. Very public. As in entitling the paper "Dear Reviewer 2: Go F’ Yourself" levels of public.

Naturally, we read the paper and got in touch with its author, Iowa State's David Peterson, to find out the details of the study. The key detail is that the title is somewhat misleading: it's actually the person who is somewhat randomly assigned to the Reviewer 3 slot who's the heartless bastard who keeps trying to torpedo the careers of other academics. For the rest, well, read on.
We have to ask: Why?

Peterson laid out his case for looking at one particular reviewer in his paper, in the section helpfully entitled "Why Reviewer 2?"
The main motivation for this article is that the broader community has decided that Reviewer 2 is a monster. A Google search for “Reviewer 2” produces the interdisciplinary Facebook group “Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped!” (which has over 9,000 members), a blog entry entitled “How Not to Be Reviewer #2,” and countless images combining almost every visual meme imaginable. In academia, it is fair to say that Reviewer 2 is the ultimate boogeyman. He is Pennywise the Clown, combined with el chupacabra, wrapped in the Blair Witch.


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