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Grumpy about referee comments

Posted by Arjendu on August 27, 2009

(Recycling from my facebook wall, apologies for those who are fb friends as well)

In the spirit of this being a true ‘journal’ and my principle of transparency: Yesterday I got referee reports on a recent paper that have rendered me grumpy. It amounted to a pretty much outright rejection of a paper that I actually like a lot, and think has plenty valid in it.

Over the years, I’ve had the full range of reactions to referee comments, ranging from shock and incredulity to elation and pleasure. This time it’s a resigned grumpiness associated with (1) some valid observations in the comments, (2) coupled with the usual remarkable blindness to that which is already stated, (3) time of year: Who wants to deal with this when the school year is coming screeching down the pike? and most importantly (4) I think I am paying the price finally for the last few years of being distracted by college-wide and other administrative duties, and/or life. It’s horribly difficult to sustain productivity at the highest level (and in science, particularly without grad students/post-docs/others who can also see the big picture) if you can’t bring full attention to bear.[Don’t get me wrong, in the last 18 months, I’ve published twice in Physical Review Letters, and have traded comments there as well, and once in Phys. Rev. E., a very respectable rate of publication; but the near future looks a little slower].

So. I brought it on myself, but I reserve the right to grump for a while.

A senior colleague (not in the sciences) at Carleton assures me that “apparently the post-tenure phase is a little like the first couple of years on the job, where you’re getting used to a lot of new (or expanded) duties and don’t have much time for pure research. But it [gets] better.”

And then I sat down and tried to be a fair referee for an article that had been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks. So it goes.


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