The Peer Review Process from Hell

Lee Sigelman Aug 25 '09

When I was the editor of the American Political Science Review, I found the job quite enjoyable. That seemed to surprise many people, who assumed that my days would be full of unpleasant personal interactions with angry authors and laggardly reviewers. In six years, I did have a few of those, but not very many.

Most of those that I did have occurred when someone, X, submitted critical comments about an article we had published by someone else, Y. These exchanges typically had a nasty undertone, and in some of them the nastiness was right out there in the open. I did my best to keep the hostilities from getting out hand, but in some instances even my best efforts proved unavailing. Overseeing these exchanges was a pain in the neck — the worst part of the job, by far.

Of course, these exchanges can be unpleasant for X and/or Y, too. Here’s a perfect case in point, and a real horror story, as told in this piece by a justifiably angry Y, Rick Trebino, a physicist at Georgia Tech. Based on Trebino’s description, this is my nominee as the The Peer Review Process from Hell.

[Hat tip to Phil Young].