Compositor B's Rants

Because some unknown guy working in a 17-century printshop should still have a platform to spout off.

The REAL Way to Review Academic Manuscripts

Posted by Compositor B on March 28, 2009

For those of you familiar with the scholarly journal review process, this is the manuscript review we all sometimes wish we could submit:

Review of “The Impact of Company Actions on Company Performance”


Dear Dr.  ______,


I have recently had the “pleasure” of reviewing the latest article you have submitted to the _______ Journal. While I realize that the reviewing process is intended to be blind, your paper has made such an impression that I believe I am justified in violating the rules of etiquette in this instance.


First of all, allow me to congratulate you. Previously, the holder of the award for wasting an enormous amount of my time in a fantastic manner had been awarded to the telemarketer who convinced me to attend a six-hour hard-sell session for time-share condominiums in Lubbock, TX. Alas, he is revealed as but a rank amateur when compared to your 35 pages of mind-numbing drivel, with accompanying figures and tables (appendices A-Q). Rest assured, I laughed heartily as my family spent their day off on a boring jaunt to the beach, while I had the uninterrupted pleasure of wading through endless run-on sentences and references clearly only included to beef up the bibliography count. My hat is off to you here –four years of post-grad schooling and over ten years in academia have not yet afforded me the opportunity of referencing all of the collected works of Drucker, Williamson and Porter and the entire Strategic Management Journal, vol 23 number 10 in one, giant, twelve-page bibliography.


While references to you as the “new Milton Friedman” may be a bit premature, I would still like to take the opportunity to express my admiration for a number of things in your paper. First, the sheer number of statistical tools and methods used is frankly astounding. I admit to a bit of envy that I have never thought to combine structural equation modeling, log-it functions, diagonal-stepwise-counterclockwise-multilinear regression (DSCMLR) and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (heretofore thought to apply only to subatomic particles) in a single paper. The fact that you have managed to do all of this while at the same time not providing any coherent explanations or even a single p-value is staggering. When combined with a literature review that still bears water marks from the kitchen sink you threw in, the total effect is akin to having one’s head in an intellectual vice. No, scratch that. Four Advils later, it’s more like an iron vice. With spikes. 


Some might suggest that the excessive coverage of pre-existing literature and the overwhelming statistical acrobatics masks a weakness in your actual conclusions. But I disagree. After carefully reading through your paper four times, I believe I can succinctly sum up your rather amazing findings:

1.      “Company actions” can be defined as the combination of strategic, tactical and “accidental” moves by a company; in short, the term encompasses everything a company does.

2.      “Company actions” can have a big impact on how well a company performs.


Using the algebraic substitution property, we now have your conclusion: “Everything a company does can have a big impact on how well that company performs”


What amazes me is it only took you 35 pages (plus 17 attachments) to figure this out. Bravo.


At this point, you might correctly conclude that the “impression” your paper made was not unlike the one made by the full-color photos of my recent colonoscopy that my doctor forced me to view. As in that situation, words fail me. Regretfully, I must give the following recommendation to the associate editor of the journal: Reject, with Assassination.


The latter part of this recommendation is being aggressively followed up, as the editor, myself and my fellow reviewers have all agreed that your inane gibberish can no longer be allowed to pollute our field of inquiry. Even as you finish reading this, a team of foreign mercenaries are taking up their positions around your home. Please open your windows and draw back the shades to allow the cleanest possible head-shot. I would close by saying that I will miss you, but I think we both know by now that this would be disingenuous of me at best.


(Not Really) Respectfully,


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