17 Jul 2007

13 ways to get your manuscript rejected

I've seen a couple of good guides to getting your work published in a peer reviewed journal. But how to ensure that you get it rejected?

1. Don't write in clear English. Hell, forget clear English, don't even write in English. Editors who insist on good English are probably just pining for the days of the Empire. The more incomprehensible the better. Ignore simple grammatical rules like the use of articles, and don't run a spell check. Spell check is for losers. Certainly don't get it copyedited - good lord, that'd just be throwing good money after bad.

2. Never cite prior work. Be like this correspondent to a physics journal*, who gaily admits that "The only time I access previous articles is when the referee forces me to". Oh joy.

3. Try and try again. So your work has been rejected several times over? Play the lottery of peer review, and eventually you'll slip it past the reviewers! Reviewers love it when they see an article for the fourth time, with none of their advice acted on. No, really, they do**. ***

4. Argue. Argue. Argue. The reviewers hate you; you hate the reviewers. Don't be diplomatic: let loose the vitriol. The editor won't mind, they'll obviously take your side. After all, who the hell do the reviewers think they are? Oh, you mean the editor picked them because they think that they're experts in the field? Then the editor's an idiot too!

5. Do you know who I am?! Editors are always delighted when an author points out their eminent qualifications in a rebuttal, while ignoring all scientific substance for the reasons for rejection**.

6. Use Word Art to brighten up your article**. It shows your playful side.

7. Go completely off the wall. Five dimensional alien brains?** Bring it on.

A typical day in the editorial office.
Image credit Shira Golding on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.0
8. Ethics committee? What ethics committee? Oh, yeah, right, we've got an, er, ethics committee. What do you mean, it can't just be me, my dog, and my next door neighbour?!** You mean we actually had to ask the patients before we experimented on them!?!**

9. You're a hero. Patients adore you as their saviour and the scientific community are all paid lap-dogs of big pharma. You know what results you want, so what's a little data misrepresentation between friends?**

10. ID. The reviewers and editors won't mind if you slip just a little bit of Creationist terminology into the scientific peer-reviewed literature...**

11. Photoshop rules!!! Pesky band in the way? Just photoshop it! Transformation failed? Just photoshop it!**

12. Copy. Has someone else said it better than you ever could? Copy! Copy! Has someone else done the experiments better than you ever could? Definitely copy!

13. Don't support your conclusions. Who needs to spend hours preparing supporting data? Loser! It just takes a few quick keystrokes to write "Data not shown".

Be sure to also check out Horacio Plotkin's sage advice.

* Thanks to the Blog of the "Editor's Bookshelf" for helping me to find that letter again.
** Any resemblance of this blog post to real events or persons is, um, entirely coincidental.
*** Stop messing about and submit it to Biology Direct!

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