Peer review is hell

If you are a publishing scientist this will hit home. It's making the rounds of the science community, so you may have seen it, but if you haven't, it's hilarious. In fact it's still hilarious after the third and fourth times through. Warning: If you are sensitive about Hitler associated parodies, don't watch it; I take my cue from Mel Brooks on that subject [added: in light of a comment from a German speaker, please take this warning seriously. While the German dialog is irrelevant and it is the English subtitles that are funny, if hearing and understanding the German in this already much parodied movie segment is likely to be painful to you, don't watch. I mean this seriously. If you do understand German this is not likely to be funny to you]:

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I'm working on revising two manuscripts now, and on one of them it's definitely reviewer #3--just like in this parody! Reviewers #1 and 2, reasonable. Reviewer #3 wants about five additional experiments, and they aren't easy experiments either. We're talking ChIP, a million extra Westerns, Matrigel plug assays (a mouse model of angiogenesis), etc.

Rolling on the floor laughing!

Nice, but the Hillary Clinton version of this was the best (and I supported her).

Now I know how you guys really see those of us who review.....

By Dr Denise (not verified) on 05 Dec 2009 #permalink

Dear Sirs,
AS a German colleague of Yours, being able to understand German and English alike: I was so sad that You published this. This was my last visit at Your blog. What are the other things You are laughing about?

By Martin Dirksen (not verified) on 05 Dec 2009 #permalink

Martin: I understand there are people sensitive about this. And as a Jew of a certain age I have good reason to understand why (Mel Brooks is also Jewish, BTW). So that's why I took the precaution of warning you, a warning you didn't heed. What we scientists are laughing about is the English, not the German, since you asked. I would have thought that was perfectly obvious, but I guess not. This movie and this segment in particular have been the subject of numerous subtitled spoofs, of which this is the latest. It appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other places. I regret you were offended, but I did warn you. Warnings are there for a reason. And if the underlying personage had been Stalin or Mao or George W. or Kemal Ataturk or George Custer or . . . would you have felt the same? There are many things in this world that can evoke very painful memories in people and I didn't want to do that to any reader, even though I cannot predict who they are. That's why there was an explicit warning here. You should have taken it more seriously.

Kinda looks and acts like my old grad school mentor. We all used to ride the what we deemed the hero--shit head roller coaster with each phase dependent upon how the week's experiments went. The poor bastard ended up needing to take meds for what was diagnosed as bipolar disorder years later. It was the frequent shit head phase that lead me to leave biochemistry and go to med school. Abuse (verbal and academic is pervasive in academics and I certainly hope none of you reading this who have grad students have a skeleton in the closet.

As for the sensitivities of the clip tough history sometimes sucks.

By bostonERDoc (not verified) on 05 Dec 2009 #permalink

Really, really funny. Was a great movie, too.

"things in this world that can evoke very painful memories in people and I didn't want to do that to any reader...
explicit warning here. You should have taken it more seriously."

There's an email etiquette practice that says "if you have to apologize for potentially offending someone, then don't send it." I'm shocked that such an intelligent person as you, recognizing "very painful memories," felt a need to share this. I don't speak a word of German, don't have a Jewish background, and I found it disturbing. Warning or not, seems you would have had better taste.

However - the part I find most amusing is how poorly you take criticism, considering how well you dish it out.

I am German and a scientist. And this is extremely funny!!

I found Der Untergang extremely upsetting. In fact, it took me quite a while to muster the courage to watch it in the first place. Still, albeit being a German and scientist, I find this version hilarious. It is just too spot on and I am sorry that Martin in #6 totally misses the point. I don't think he is representative though.

Joe (#10): It is not a post hoc apology. The warning is in the original. Most of my readers do not speak or understand German (myself included). But I felt that there were those who did who might not want to see it and usually they know who they are. So I warned them. Ahead of time. I am a journal editor and a publishing scientist. I get reviewed, I review and I assign manuscripts for review. This is about that world. As Catherina notes (#12), those who have legitimate reasons to find the format upsetting were warned, but to miss the contents for the format despite that is truly to miss the point. People are different and I tried to take those differences into account with a warning -- in the original post, not belatedly. That was the best I could do. Apparently for some it wasn't good enough and for others it was. Not surprising.

Sorry that i missed the point.I am not representative (probably, see above), not a scientist (as you write "We scientists...")but only (?) a "German speaker". I quoted something irrelevant.Thanks to the most scholary remarks in the discussion I am convinced now that it is funny to publish this parody. I think it is worthwhile to follow what will be next on this always thoughtful blog.

By Martin Dirksen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2009 #permalink

Martin: First, I appreciate that you saw this was not an insensitive post and I am grateful to you for saying it. Because of my own history I thought seriously ahead of time about whether to post it, hence the warning. But every one of my scientific colleagues who saw it (including those who lost family during those years) were hysterical over the contents. So I posted it (with reservations). I added something after your comment because I was very conscious of the possibility that there could be, what my government euphemistically calls, "collateral damage." Whether intended or not, that damage is still real damage and I don't take it lightly so your comment was painful to me. But I did try and I'm glad that my explanations and those of others has convinced you it was not just insensitivity on our part.

also, was ist jetzt lustig für die Amis , der Wutausbruch
als solcher , oder das Gefühl der Ãberlegenheit angesichts
des gewonnenen Kriegen ?
Das Benutzen anderer Mittel
abseits von Logik und wissenschaftlicher Argumentation
um seine Position zu bekräftigen ?
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