Helpful Vocabulary for Journal Reviewers

both for communicating with editors and authors (or cut-throat Scrabble games).

Battology n. The continual reiteration of the same words or phrases in speech or writing. A battologer is one who battologizes.

Dyslogy n. Dispraise; uncomplimentary remarks. The opposite of “eulogy.”

Ergasiophobia n. Fear of, or aversion to, work; diffidence about tackling the job. [something you write to the editor when explaining your medical reason for not accepting a manuscript to review]

Fustian n. or a. Ridiculously pompous, bombastic, or inflated language. The essence of fustian is not the use of big or exotic words but the adoption of a declamatory style that is unsuited, by virtue of its high-flown and flowery imagery, or its grandiose delivery, to the purposes for which it is being employed.

Hebetate v. To grow dull or stupid. The verb can also be transitive, meaning to make someone else grow dull or stupid — a sense of which it is hard to conceive an example except perhaps for the action upon the mind of prolonged exposure to radio talk shows or poorly conceived manuscripts. The noun is hebetude.

Ignotum Per Ignotius n. An explanation which is even more obscure than the thing it purports to explain. Literally, “the unknown by the more unknown.” Can be unintended or intended.

Jargogle v. To befuddle or mess up.

Kalopsia n. A state in which things [data] appear more beautiful than they really are.

Murcid a. Slothful, shirking work or duty.

Nugacity n. Triviality, futility.

Otiant a. Idle or resting.

Pleionosis n. The exaggeration of one’s own importance.

Quisguous a. Perplexing, puzzling.

Renitency n. Reluctance or resistance.

Thrasonical a. Bragging and boasting.

Unthirlable a. Impenetrable.

Vecordious a. Crazy, senseless, lunatic.

Zoilism n. Carping, destructive criticism.

Plus some choice quotes to help you craft your own comments from reviewers for Environmental Microbiology (impact factor 4.909) in 2010 :

This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author’s email ID so they can’t use the online system in future.

The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style.

The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about.

I would suggest that EM is setting up a fund that pays for the red wine reviewers may need to digest manuscripts like this one.

Season’s Greetings! I apologise for my slow response but a roast goose prevented me from answering emails for a few days.

Always dear EMI takes care of its referees, providing them with entertainment for the holiday time in between Xmas and New Year. Plus the server shows, as usual, its inhuman nature and continues to send reminding messages. Well, between playing tennis on the Wii, eating and drinking, I found time and some strength of mind to do this work.

I suppose that I should be happy that I don’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing this dreadful paper; however I am depressed that people are performing such bad science.

I wonder if you and I do not have better things to do than help people who can’t help themselves.

… and 2009:

The peaceful atmosphere between Christmas and New Year was transiently disrupted by reading this manuscript.

You know there is something important there but the language is so inaccessible that you cannot make up your mind if they are trying to hide something or they actually think that is a good style of writing.

The finding is not novel and the solution induces despair.

… and 2008:

The Introduction and the Discussion sections are contradictory. I even believe that the Discussion may actually belong to another manuscript.

… and 2007:

The paper is full of wild speculation linked by a few random experiments.

My heart sinks when I have to review papers from this group as I know my response is most likely going to be as long as the paper.

Nothing really new and even this is badly done.

I nearly said reject. But then I recalled that I have a hangover and I am feeling grumpy.

For this crucial initial step, authors behaved like a cook who is in charge of preparing an ‘haute cuisine’ meal for the 40th wedding anniversary for 100 guests and consults the first cookbook for kiddies to get some idea.

… and 2006:

I would be glad to look at a revised manuscript, but please give me a few months to get over the current version!

I have taken out my earlier comment that the authors retake Chemistry 101, that is probably not allowable.

This was a possible candidate for the ‘worst use of statistics to substantiate a falsehood’ award.

Another ms bites the dust – I don’t think the corresponding author has read it.

It is unusual to express the result before the aims.

I’m a bit worried that the proportion of papers rejected might correlate significantly with the review being carried out on sunny weekends. Time for a beer and BBQ.

Is there a chance you could send me any good papers, at least once in a while?

My rather severe recommendation is aimed not only at serving the journal and its readers but also at helping the authors to preserve their reputations.

These sentences are way long . . . even for German readers!

… and 2005:

It is early in the year, but difficult to imagine any paper overtaking this one for lack of imagination, logic, or data – it is beyond redemption.

A shoddy superficial study with essentially no microbiological content (other than that, it was OK).

The authors are quite creative in using different statistical approaches.

This is another one of those PCA-based studies. There are several chemical data from several sites. You do not have to think about them, you just feed them into your statistics program, and this will tell you what is important. Then you make an impressive number of clones and feed their RFLP patterns into your statistics program, and this will tell you what is important. Then you sequence all clones with unique RFLP patterns and make a big tree. Then you combine the data sets, and this will give a fantastic matrix for a discussion, where you explain every possible relation on six pages without subheadings.

The hypothesis that a toxicant induces change is not useful news.



  1. D said

    I am way too nice.

  2. LOL!!! the comments are priceless, thank you for cheering up my day at lab!

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