Venting your author frustrations

27 01 2017

frustrationEvery scientist worth her salt has had her share of annoying interactions with journal editors — both verbally and via e-mail. My friend and colleague Bill Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University, is no exception, and penned this hypothetical exchange between an author and editor as a way of venting his frustrations. Enjoy!

Author to Journal Editor, at a conference

Author: “You know, if I could sniff my own butt like you do, I would.”

Editor: Wags butt like he’s wagging his tail

Author: “Then again, maybe I wouldn’t …”

Editor: “You’re taking this kind of personally.”

Author:  “You think howling after getting kicked in the nuts by three referees is ‘taking it personally’? How about if I kick you in the nuts and we see how you go?”

Editor: “Sorry, I have to maintain editorial impartiality.”

Author: “I wonder if you’ll stay impartial after I stick this in your ear?”

Editor: “Please send me an e-mail so we have a formal record of this conversation.”

Author: “Nothing would make me happier.”

Editor: “We’ll communicate with you later, then.”

Author to Journal Editor, Via e-mail

Author: “Dear esteemed editor, Please find attached the fortieth revision of our manuscript, ‘Cockroaches are not all bad’, for your kind consideration. Choke on it.”

Editor: “I think it’s great that you dabble in science the way that you do.”

Author: “Fuck you very much.”

Editor: “I am so glad that we are keeping a formal record of our interactions. I will share them with our Editorial Board at the annual Christmas party.”

Author: “Indeed, I have a few letters I want to mail to you and the Editorial Board. You don’t have to wait till Christmas if you all open them at once.”

Editor: “That is most kind of you.”

Author: “The letters will say ‘Editorial Rebuttal’, so you’ll know they’re from me.”

Editor: “We’ll keep our eyes open.”

Author: “The tenor of this conversation is not really getting close to the issue at the heart of my concerns.”

Editor: “And that would be?”

Author: “The fact that you and the other members of your Sadistic, Red-eyed, Satanic, Died-in-the-wool Reapers of the Editorial World are still allowed to visit your infamously horrid, malevolent, perturbed ways upon the likes of me and my renowned coauthors, some of whom are also my drinking buddies.”

Editor: “I am so sorry if we upset your drinking games.”

Author: “You did more than upset our games, you upset our stomachs and lower digestive tracts, and the resulting odour would be enough to knock a buzzard right off its perch were it not for the exceptionally robust and determined constitution of our science team.”

Editor: “I think you are using the word ‘Science’ a bit loosely. Besides, I am with Nature, and we have a higher impact factor than Science.”

Author: “You know what they say about impact factors?”

Editor: “That bigger is better?”

Author: “No, that you can bite me.”

Editor: “I think you are being a little irreverent.”

Author: “Say that again after you open my letter.”

Editor: “Do you know what we do to ‘authors with an attitude’, like you?”

Author: “No, what?”

Editor: “We forward their emails to the F.B.I.”

Author: “And that’s supposed to worry me?”

Editor: “I’d be worried if I were you.”

Author: “Why?”

Editor: “As my old girlfriend once said to me in a ‘Dear John’ letter: ‘Never put anything you might later regret in writing.’ “

William F. Laurance


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