Most Unhelpful Review of All Time (I exaggerate but it is pretty bad)

Posted on January 16, 2012


So a month ago I submitted a paper to the CAA conference and just recently I got back two reviews-

Reviewer A:

The topic of the paper seems directly relevant to the session and may offer a genuine contribution. However, the abstract is far too short even by the forgiving standards of CAA. The paper may be accepted subject to a full abstract being resubmitted.
Reviewer B:

This promises to be a paper that addresses some key issues in open access journal publishing within the discipline. The case study provides a useful example of real possiblities for implementing change in our sector, giving implementable approaches to improving access to knowledge and research generally. There is real scope here to provide a methodology for Archaeology going forwards for increasing open content and breaking down the silos within which we have found ourselves working.

Who puts down the conference they are a reviewer for, Reviewer A? “even by the forgiving standards of CAA” is a very snarkey way of saying this conference has poor standards. In case your wondering here is the abstract-

OpenAccessArchaeology developed out of a project looking at the perceived quality of archaeology journals and the costs to subscribe to them. Having no subscription costs open access journals were put into a list and shoved to the side. This list eventual made its way into a blog post, then a webpage, and finally into a dedicated website with a custom search engine, soon to be released database, and dedicate blog.

The process of which serves as an excellent case study into:

  • the pitfalls of open access publishing
  • best practice of open access publishing
  • the creation of a central open access resource

This paper will take the lessons learned in this case study to layout possible future progress into the dissemination of open content in archaeology.

Yes, it is short but its an ABSTRACT. It is not meant to be to be a full length paper. It is a teaser to entice other attendants at the conference to come and see your paper.

Quality of the abstract aside the feedback was very poor. Other than the reviewer said it was too short there is no direction for improvement. Here are some tips for reviews if you ever have to give one-

  • If you are going to give a review do not insult any person, place, or thing. Yes it could be anonymous but personal attacks are never a good idea. (even though I was not personally insulted- yes it was short but I don’t take that personally- I am not happy to see someone lay into the conference I hope to attend)
  • Give specific examples- this person said it was too short. How was it too short? How many words would be need is great feedback. What sections were to short or missing? Say what needs to be expanded e.g. say a sentence or two about methodology etc.
  • Make a review then wait and come back to it later. Maybe this person knocked off this review in a hurry and they did not mean for it to come across as snarky as it did. God knows this happens to me all the time.

Following these tips will help you in your reviews.

Posted in: Wildcard