why such rudeness in paper rejection?


I've just had the most scathing and gratuitously rude rejection of a paper I submitted from a single anonymous reviewer. I am a mature late entrant to the academic world and I accept criticism (you have to in the PhD process!) and I have never in any other institution come across the kind of bullying and arrogance that seems rife in this world. Many of these discussions revolve around unfair and bullying practices. It is so disappointing.


It could very well be that the anonymous reviewer is working on producing similar results in your paper and is feeling frustrated that you've managed to put it in paper first. That's politics for you. Or it could simply be that the reviewer is a downright arrogant egotistical dick.


Or it could be that your paper just wasn't up to standards. Believe it or not, rejection letters are alwasy hard to swallow, after months of waiting for a decision and due to their usually very formal, impersonal nature.

I hate to say it as other users are likely to lose respect, but I got five papers rejected and none accepted. Now that I left the academic world (with a PhD) I can nonetheless still feel the pain. The initial reaction is to blame the editors, the department, the world or the universe but quite often papers are just not up to standard. Still, I do believe that some of these reviewers and editors are a bunch of arrogant idiots.


they create their standards and act like research gods, despite the fact that they are underpaid, depressed and detached from the real world. I think some of them really need a slap on their foreheads.


don't give up. try incorporating comments and send it off to another journal. don't stop, it will be very hard to pick it up later and correct it.


Thankfully I think egotistical bullying is not always the case; I've worked in research for a little while and my previous boss was always fair with her reviews. I did see her write bad comments for one paper though, that was for a direct competitor who had tried to scoop our work. Thankfully her bad comments were justified, in their hurry the competitor had taken a few shortcuts that substantially negated the value of the work.

Good luck with the rewrite!


Also, I wonder if journal editors take on board the competitive factor when they select reviewers for submitted papers. I don't think single reviewers are ever a good idea, they should find three for a balanced opinion and true 'peer review'.


thankyou so much for your support everyone. I accept that my paper was obviously not up to the standard required but the response was unnecessarily rude. It's just not a supportive critically constructive response. I will plod on and try to do better but any more responses like that and I will look outside academia for a career.


dont lose heart, a little shade cannot overshadow your brilliance


,come on, just write to the editor to express your angry,but most important, skip the word of the reviewer and pay more attention to your paper, good luck to you and your paper


Having reviewed several papers (under my supervisors name who got all the credit naturally), I may have a slightly different take.

Some of the papers were very good, and you would include comments that would enhance it. You would HAVE to critique the paper (that is your job as a peer reviewer) but recommend publication at the end.

However, there were also submissions that made you despair about the state of academia! Some were based on VERY dodgy science, full of assumptions and false conclusions and were desevedly slated. Others seemed deliberately dense and confusing, which is a really bad sign if your main job is communicating knowledge.

The ones that got the worst of my wrath were the badly spelt, poorly presented and full of unexplained acronyms and references. Quite frankly if you are submitting this kind of work you deserve all the insults you get back!


At the journal review stage they dont know if you are a neophyte PhD student or a veteran professor, so you get scrutinised equally by peers who are (supposed to be) experts. Naturally they are going to take it a bit personally if you make a bad fist of their "turf".

Howevever, you could have also run afoul of some political issue you may be oblivious to. If I were you I would send it to other journals. If they are all equally scathing you may have to face it that your paper may not be so good. If they accept it, then you can chalk it down to a biased reviewer.


I have already stated that I accept that my paper may not have been excellent but it has already been peer reviewed by others as it was part of PhD research which examined controversial ground. I am complaining because I feel that gratuitous rudeness only benefits a reviewer who feels need to vent! Academics should be articulate enough and well trained enough not to need to express criticism in terms that are unprofessional. What difference does it make to the reviewer whether they recommend rejection in professional and constructive terms or rude and unsophisticated terms?


Without knowing your feedback its hard to ascertain if its rude or unwarranted.

Sometimes constructive criticism can be construed as being insulting or rude. Its hard to say "There was poor spelling and punctuation throughout the manuscript and this is unacceptable" without sounding patronising at the PhD level. Similarly pointing out inconsistencies and flaws in peoples work is often quite devaluing for people. It can be a bit "Simon Cowell".

Obviously comments like "This article is crap" or "The author is a shithead" are NOT reviewing. However, bear in mind peer reviewers do not get paid for reviewing your manuscript, having to do this in their spare time. If an author has written a poor MS that is hard to read, and very flawed I can see how they would be irritated by "wasting their time", the same as you may be if you bought a rubbish book.


One huge difference between the US and the UK (in law) are the law review journals put out in droves in US law schools. Those are student reviewed ( not peer reviewed--unless you are a student) and the chances of mistaken information coming in to articles is HUGE. I recently read an article saying Treaty XYZ had come into force...when it has NOT!!!!! The authors obviously did not understand the mechanics of international treaty ratification ( in this case a Hague convention) and for me that right away took away from any "expertise" in what they had to say...

Point being, so called experts are not always...and just keep trying. Have you looked across disciplines? I had some pre PhD publications in related disciplines, and was surprised at the kindness and courtesy with which my submissions were met. In fact, those experiences eventually led me to a mid life/mid career re-entry into university to do a PhD.