Reviewer sapien

By Ebb

The metapopulation structure of Reviewer sapien is complex. Founding taxonomic work elevated each of three subgroupings to subspecies level based exclusively on behavioural attributes despite some conjecture surrounding the absence of reliable morphological characters. More recently, phylogeny of these subspecies has been challenged on genetic grounds, though this is purely theoretical owing to a court ruling that R. sapien comes under human ethics rather than animal ethics legislation. There are strict rules around sampling human DNA, and even stricter rules dripping with political correctness associated with acts of stereotyping. In effect the species is considered more than half-human.

In the beginning, Dr Freud Fishenheimer recognised only R. sapien constructivist (sensu oldschoolii), R. s. agro, R. s. holierthannow and R. s. missinginaction (Fig. 1a). Reviewer. s. constructivist was defined as logical, thorough and oozing with old school class. This type is typically very strong with the English word and is a grammatical stickler, sometimes to the detriment of holding up a progressive scientific lens. They are apparently concerned with the quality of the manuscript at hand and only too willing to improve the document especially where upcoming authors are involved. They are frequently only too willing to sign their name to their review, and to accept when asked by the editor to revise a major revision or resubmission.

Reviewer s. agro in contrast, seems intent on destruction. Perhaps their best trait is rejecting the crappier manuscripts circumventing the slow death of a truly major revision process, thereby freeing up the editor and R. s constructivist to apply efforts elsewhere. In the pre-computer era, handling editors could afford to be ambivalent towards H. s. agro especially since two out of three reviewers were likely constructive. Bureau of Statistics estimates clearly show a pre-1990s abundance of constructive reviews, reviewers and their likelihood of being found at home with a Cognac in their own dwellings on census night. In the post carrier pigeon age, email enables rash and immediate response from the severely stung lead author or even the disgruntled authorship team. This loosely translates into editors receiving pleasantries such as, ‘If you are going to stand by Reviewer B despite them clearly being a prick with their consistently biased and unconstructive comments, than your journal can go to …’. Well, you get the idea.

Reviewer s. holierthannow speaks with complete authority, and cannot possibly be wrong. They published a well-cited paper in the 1800s and have some how outlived most vampires, or are committed to doing so in time. The smell of chardonnay wafts from their email. It is surprising given their very existence that the lower class should bother to attempt publication. In fact, the would-be author is left wondering why any further science is necessary, which makes uncomfortable sense momentarily when mum is sending newspaper clippings of the revelation that McDonalds is hiring graduates from the postgraduate science pool, again. The earth is a round pastry waiting to be flattened out and returned to its original wholesome goodness.

Reviewer s. missinginaction is disinterested, too busy or without opinion. The chirping of crickets is like dance music on repeat. Of all reviewer types they are always last to submit their paperwork to the editor. And if they read your abstract they did it quickly. Missing in action is the kiss of death when wedged between two agros. Phylogeny of reviewers

Figure 1 The progression in published phylogenies of Reviewer subspecies based on a) Fishenheimer 1973 b) Fishenheimer-Smith 2001 c) Fishenheimer-Smith & Fishenheimer 2004.

By the turn of the century, Fishenheimer’s daughter Associate Professor Fishenheimer-Smith had recognised a fifth and sixth subspecies (Fig. 1b). This work was to become globally recognised and ecology was to square-root transform forevermore. Homo sapien geneticistlabii and Homo sapien statisticblinkeri became almost instantly recognisable. The former had no problem deciphering a methods section comprising paragraphs that many of us thought were some form of product barcode and elaborate means of communicating beyond our solar system. Some of us still can’t get three sides out on the Rubik’s cube despite being reliably told that a cryptic species is not at all obvious in the field. Reviewer statisticblinkeri brought experimental design to the fore, although, according to H. s. oldschoolii this rigour may have come at the expense of remembering that fish have gills and fins. These subspecies have clearly advanced our science.

Of great interest was the fact that for the first time taxonomists believed there was a morphological basis for classifying these subspecies. The light skin colour attributed to the lab and office environments was apparently in sharp contrast to the bronzed Ozzie field technician and scientist mould. This was to prove highly contentious and distasteful, and ultimately would lead to the resurrection of the juxtapose and likely ancestral subspecies Homo sapien naturalhistoreye (Fig. 1c). Ironically this whole process would come to be bemoaned by geneticists and increasingly statistically literate ecologists alike. As someone with subpar mathematic ability and an epidermis existing only in shades of white or red, my field days were over and I was to enter exile.

Which of these subspecies are you? Maybe you have evolved and believe that you are the best of different bits and pieces recognisable or not even mentioned above. I must say that I have had some really insightful and constructive reviews at times from Australian fish ecologists. Even despite a few of these reviews not ending favourably on occasion, I could not always fault what was being said to me after the initial pain had subsided. I think these constructive reviews are challenging and are of real merit. This website is partly dedicated to the likes of you people.

Where as, let me just say, that if you happen to be H. s. agro, you should be shot. While this may seem offensive, my lovely side is now a distant memory hardened by your chargrilling in recent years. Good day to you all fish ecologists, reviewers and fellow approximators of truth. After all, the subspecies concept may just be missing the point, of what it is to be Homo sapien.


Further reading

Fishenheimer, F. (1973). Three distinct lineages of Reviewer species. Humantaxa 18, 23-29.

Fishenheimer-Smith, R. (2001). Trouble in paradise, the emergence of multiple breeds of fish ecologist. Journal of Fish and Fisheries Sociology 17, 102-137.

Fishenheimer-Smith, R. and Fishenheimer, F. (2004). By deduction, the natural-history-eyed researcher must have existed. Humantaxa 49, 344-357.

Kriegeskorte, N. (2014). What lesson do rising retraction rates hold for peer review? The Conversation

Lozano, G. A., Larivière, V. and Gingras, Y. (2012). The weakening relationship between the impact factor and papers’ citations in the digital age. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63 (11), 2140.

Spicer, A. and Roulet, T (2014). Hate the peer-review process? Einstein did too. The Conversation