fool me once, shame on you…

So a while back I submitted an article to a journal, which we shall call the Drekistan Journal of Sociology.* In the meantime, as the months have gone by with the wheels of publication grinding inexorably onward at their usual glacial pace, I was tagged for two reviews by the same journal. I completed both reviews and submitted them as a good little hopeful journal publishee should and went about my business.

A few weeks ago an e-mail popped up in my inbox from DJS that included the phrase “notification of decision.” My pulse pounded, my blood warmed, I felt all feverish, and images of both success and failure swirled through my brain in a very close approximation of Schrodinger’s feline companion. And then I noticed that the full subject line was “Reviewer notification of decision”. Yeah, it was just the journal letting me know how things turned out with a paper I reviewed.

I got on with my life, continued with other projects, and time wore on until yesterday I received another e-mail from DJS. My pulse pounded, my blood warmed, I felt all feverish, I hesitated over opening the message. And then I noticed the same thing. It was a reviewer notification of decision. This time around my verbal response to this let-down was such that I cannot repeat it on a fine and elegantly crafted blog such as this.

Honestly I don’t know what should bug me more: that I over-reacted the same way twice, or that two papers I’ve reviewed since submitting my own have gotten decisions before me.

* Not its real name.

6 thoughts on “fool me once, shame on you…”

  1. Gosh, Drek, you might as well beg us blog readers to all send you email with the subject line “Notification of Decision.” Personally, I’ll be sending you daily (hourly?) emails for the next week or so.


  2. Sorry Drek! That is really frustrating. I hope your paper gets accepted soon.

    Can I share a frustrating journal encounter too? The story is this: Prominent journal emails me Thursday night about reviewing a paper, I email back Friday morning saying I will do the review, and they send the paper shortly after. I try to do reviews right away so they won’t pile up (and with some misguided notion about journal karma), so I read the paper late last night (an exciting Friday evening!), after a long day of other obligations. The paper was truly terrible, the kind that I would have failed an undergraduate for submitting. To name just a few problems, the article was missing a data and methods section (or any discussion of methods), the reference list included encyclopedia articles and undergraduate introductory textbooks, and parts of the text were written as bullet points. In response to this awful paper, I wrote a short note to the editor explaining why the paper was unsuitable for consideration or a review. But I was really irritated that I was asked to review this paper; it really should have been desk rejected. Why did the journal editors and staff waste their time identifying reviewers and then waste my time with such a paper? If they had even looked at the reference list, it would have been clear that this was not a paper worthy of review. The unfortunate part is that instead of wasting our collective time on this awful paper, we could have been reviewing real papers like Drek’s.


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