Can you believe this is the fifth year of Peer Review Week?!
There’s a great post about the history of PRW on the Scholarly Kitchen if you’re keen to learn more about how it started and what it’s grown into. Most years have had a theme, from transparency to diversity, and the topic chosen for 2019 is…
‘Quality in Peer Review’
So we’re asking:
What’s the best (or worst) review you’ve ever received? And why
We’d love to hear from you so please do take the opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences on Peer Review! Simply use the comment box at the bottom of this post to share your answers.
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Worst review was my first review. I went through several iterations of my first paper with my supervisors - it took a lot of editing as I couldn't write. However, we didn't rush it and it was fairly good by the time we submitted (to JAM). The paper was desk rejected by one of the editors and the editorial comments were unfair and downright nasty (comments like: poor quality research, adds nothing to the field etc). As a young researcher just finishing my PhD, it really knocked my confidence and it took time to build the courage to submit elsewhere. However, after encouragement from my peers and supervisors we resubmitted to a top journal in the field (Food Microbiol). This is now in my top 10 most cited papers (145 citations - https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=tyLC9iEAAAAJ&hl=en) and I am proud of it. I had a horrible introduction to the peer review process but it taught me a lot (e.g. how not to review) and, the good news is that, I have never experienced a review quite as bad since (well maybe I have but I probably have thicker skin now!!).
Do you think your early bad experience has made you a better reviewer now? Well done on the citations - that's great.
I believe so. This experience taught me to think of the people behind the paper - if criticism is necessary it can be delivered constructively. It is easy to damage people's confidence, particularly early in their careers and many first authors are early career researchers. It also taught me that even though you are anonymous, there is no need to be rude.
Thank you for this! I just saw a little bit of myself here: because I've had some bad reviews (some of them really unfair!), I think of them and how the authors will feel after reading my comments, everytime I'm doing a review .