I am on the editorial board and do a lot of reviewing for My Society’s Specialty Journal. I submit a fair number of articles (out of loyalty to the journal, beyond the fact of the audience it reaches). I have lately decided to stop submitting, and certainly don’t want my students & postdocs submitting there for a number of reasons that have to do with a truly fucked up editorial process.
I just got back a review (I did for a submitted paper) and saw the other reviewer’s comments. They were absolutely inane (“is this really a solution to the XXX problem?”, me: well yes, the author said so on line 14 of page 2), trivial (“what was the brand of supply you used”), and downright hostile (“the patients were evaluated by a YYY specialist and I am concerned that they were not adequate” me: so they were not a BSD physician, despite the fact of their training, background and previous publications).
Here is what I wrote to the editor:
Hi John (not his name),
I do not know who the corresponding editor was for this review, but I have some concerns that I would like to share with both of you. Obviously, I thought there were significant problems with this manuscript and think it needed work. I am concerned that rev 1’s review contains a number of troubling points. I know that it is the author’s job to be able to speak to the audience, and if this reviewer was a potential reader, then one could argue that all these points are valid. However, I have had a number of reviews of my work that I thought were making petty points that were easier to answer than argue about. I do not think this review was helpful at all.
My reason for writing to you concerns some of the issues I raised at our board meeting. I want xxxxx to succeed. But if we get the reputation for have reviews that focus on minor points, and not ones that substantially improve the science, we will not be able to raise our IF.
And of course, the IF is just about the only thing an editor-in-chief cares about.