Ego & Reviewing Papers

I received a paper to review from a relatively high IF journal (not glamour, they by and large do not truck in my field). I like to publish there, and the AE was someone who has given me trouble with my pubs in the past, so of course, I leapt, jumped, half-bounded into the air to do this.

The paper even looked relatively easy to do – the senior author is someone who’s work I know, and is by and large good. She does what I do, but in humans as opposed to animals.

However, as I read the abstract, the paper really irritated me, and thus this post. She was repeating something I had published in the late 90’s and that I had consistently referred to in work over the last 10-12 years. This work was the starting point for stuff that my last 2-3 trainees have done, and published. She did not cite a single paper from my group, from related work from my mentors (who had done relevant stuff in the 80’s), or in fact any animal work after 1980. Needless to say the results from the 60’s and 70’s are marginally appropriate, but filled with flaws.

As I read on the paper really sucked. Experimental procedures were not described in sufficient detail, the data analysis was flawed, and it was really using human results as her starting point for hypotheses, without acknowledging or justifying in what ways animals and humans are the same and in what ways they differ. This is something that I, as Mistress of The Animals, have had to do in every grant I have ever written (not necessarily successful, mind you), a number which is, to quote Bette Midler, in the “Serious Double Digits”.

What I had to do was to separate my pissedoffedness about not being cited from the scientific critiques which are serious and make the paper unpublishable. In the end it doesn’t matter if the author cites me (as much as that inner honey badger is chewing on my spine when I write that). It does matter that it duplicates previously and unacknowledged  previously published results.

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