Reviewing: the Situation

One of the better books about statistics is Abelson’s Statistics as Principled Argument“. Amongst the many words of wisdom, he gives us this useful dictum:

Chance is Lumpy


I mention this, not just because it’s true, but also because Chance also has a mean streak (um, am I mixing my metaphors?). So it was that I was musing a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t been asked to review any manuscripts. A few days later a small journal asked me to review one on a topic I am not greatly familiar with. I have a certain attachment to this journal, so I agreed. For me the paper looks to be in the “dull but worthy” class (as I said, it’s not in my area). As I hadn’t reviewed many papers recently, I accepted the invitation.

A few days later I was asked by another journal to review a paper on an areas that I am more interested in. Gah, I thought. Oh well, I’ll accept the invitation to look at that one too.
And I’ve just got an email asking me to review a manuscript that looks really interesting and cool (or “dull and worthy” if you don’t work in the area).
So, not only is Chance lumpy, with manuscripts doing their best London bus impressions , it also has this cruel streak where it gradually ramps up the interest in the papers, so I can’t say “no” to any of them. Either that or there is an international cabal of journal editors who have marked my down in their database as someone susceptible to this sort of treatment.
They know me as well as the feline world does – there are just some things I can’t say no to.
waves fist angrily

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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3 Responses to Reviewing: the Situation

  1. Henry Gee says:

    Hang on in there, Bob. Without reviewers of manuscripts giving their time for free, the world of science would grind to a halt. We editors salute you.

  2. Massimo Pinto says:

    Good luck! I have never done more than two at the same time.

  3. Bob O'Hara says:

    Oh lucky you, Massimo.
    Fortunately for me Dull But Worthy had some obvious problems, so it was easy to just comment on these. Fortunately for the authors they’re fixable. I should also note that they followed Henry’s Keep It Simple dictum, so it was very readable.
    The next one is fairly short, so shouldn’t be too difficult. But I had forgotten I had agreed to referee another paper – it was on my list of things to do, just below working out how The Beast knows doesn’t need to sit on me any more, because he’s made sure I’ll miss the bus.