A sample paper review

I didn’t get any silly review this year, but the year is young, I’m sure I’ll get a crappy review like this by the end of the year.

Suresh posts an actual paper review: (I assume he got it for one of his papers or it was shared with him)

— Comments to the author(s):
The paper is technically poor and also the results.
The authors did not refer appropriately the past work.

The author addressed the topic in irrelevant way.

The paper is not clearly written.

No technical or engineering contribution.

— Summary:
The paper does not describe the problems and the
solutions synthetically and the technical options are
badly explained. The authors must follow common rules
for writing articles in the domain.

This is an example of a clearly unacceptable review. The reviewer lacks any kind of generosity. Here’s how you review a paper: unless you can tell, in precise terms, what is wrong, then you must assume that it is right. That’s the generosity principle.

Let’s look at what the review says piece by piece:

The paper is technically poor and also the results.

What does this mean? What is technically poor? Why are the results poor? If you know, tell us, if you don’t know why it is poor, we don’t want to hear about your opinion.

The paper is not clearly written.

Give an example or two. If the paper is not clear, then you should be able to quote a few parts that are clearly obscur and explain why they are obscur.

The authors did not refer appropriately
the past work.

Like what? What are the missing references? Or do you mean the author didn’t cite your work?

No technical or engineering contribution.

Are you saying the paper had no abstract explaining the contribution of the paper? If so, say it, if not, explain why it is not a worthy contribution.

Please, we must keep turning papers down. We must keep failing students. But we must do it generously. Reject people and papers in a way that they can improve themselves and their papers. Be specific about what is wrong. Suggest changes.

You’ve been warned. If I get a crappy review like this in the future, I’ll post it here and explain why it is unacceptable.

Daniel Lemire, "A sample paper review," in Daniel Lemire's blog, April 13, 2005.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

4 thoughts on “A sample paper review”

  1. Unfortunately, I believe this was a true review, and I got worse reviews that this one.

    We have to collectively stand up and complain when we get such bad reviews.

  2. :))) That is the collection of all worest judgement you can get. Somtimes a loser researcher can do this.

  3. Yes, I’ve seen such reviews in my short and multiple-stop career as a research student. I wonder what purpose do they serve, except the one that mandates the PC to kick out some papers, so that the acceptance rates remain “low”.

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