Archive for June 23rd, 2009

Today I read a bad paper that I will be giving a bad review.  I haven’t reviewed many papers, so I am hoping that I have just had bad luck so far, but it seems that every time I agree to review a paper it has serious flaws.  While the authors were kind enough to double space their papers and include page numbers, I could have done without these things if those double-spaced and numbered pages were filled with coherent arguments, paragraphs, or even sentences.

Despite my strong beliefs that these papers were bad, I sympathize with the authors who receive my comments.  As the recipient of a number of bad reviews of my own papers, I try to couch my criticisms between statements that “I think you have some really good ideas” and “your methodological approach is interesting.”  Unfortunately, these statements probably don’t do much to lessen the blow when they are followed by “…but your poor writing prevents me from knowing for sure” and “…but seriously flawed.”

The worst thing about this is that I always have high hopes for the papers I agree to review.  The paper I read today had been sitting on my desk for a while while I worked on dissertation-related matters, so I was looking forward to the chance to read about an interesting topic that was loosely related to my own area of research.  While my hopes weren’t met, I will still feel bad when I submit my suggestion to reject the paper.  Still, I would have felt worse if the author had bothered to proofread it before sending it to total strangers.

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