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Your Manuscript Is Terrible … Happy Holidays, Though

I love a good end-of-the-year list. Nothing gives me a warm, fuzzy holiday feeling like opening a magazine to a list of the best albums of the year (sorry, Kanye fans, I’m not sure I can get on board), best movies of the year (“Burlesque” is certainly up there for me. It got nominated for a Golden Globe, you know), or chemical research highlights of the year.

So it was with delight that I recently received a year-end list published in the journal Environmental Microbiology from a friend. The “Chemistry Blog” also took note of this list in a post a few days ago. The editors at Environmental Microbiology put together their favorite referee comments of the year for their last issue of 2010. Some of the quotes from the manuscript reviews waxed a bit too enthusiastic for me, but the true gems are those with a healthy dose of snark.

You can see the full list here, but I’ve whittled it down to my favs (a subset list—how exciting!) for your reading pleasure:

■ This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author’s email ID so they can’t use the online system in future.

■ The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style.

■ Reject—More holes than my grandad’s string vest!

■ The statement that glycolipids and phospholipids “may play an important role in stabilising the outer membrane” is odd because this they definitely do in all Eubacteria.

■ The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about.

■ The presentation is of a standard that I would reject from an undergraduate student. Take Table 1: none of the data has units or an explanation. Negative controls give a positive signal.

■ Merry X-mas! First, my recommendation was reject with new submission … but reading a well written manuscript before X-mas makes me feel like Santa Claus.

Happy Holidays, Newscripts readers.

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