You know, basic editing and lit review = teh good

Just finished my GECCO reviewing, and I must say that is seriously sucks when people don’t attend to even the most basic of issues. Two things almost guaranteed to majorly annoy a reviewer:

  • Weird random floating fragments of text that are obviously the disemboweled remnants of some cut and paste action.
  • Only 8 entries in the bibliography on a subject that has been heavily researched for over a decade.

And just guess the average publication date of 8 fine references.

1985.

Yeah, over 20 years ago.

3 entries were books (two of which were over 10 years old), and the only 2 journal articles were from 1938 and 1964 respectively.

Strangely enough, I didn’t encourage acceptance of that paper.

The really depressing thing is that most of our (undergraduate) students at UMM would do better than this.

No, maybe that’s the uplifting thing.

Maybe the really depressing thing is that I see papers with this kind of bibliography fairly often. I’d almost recommend some sort of automatic rejection system for obviously stupid bibliographies, but then people would just start padding their bibliographies with random citations to get past that blockade.

Sigh.

Creative Commons License photo credit: markopoulos

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3 Responses to You know, basic editing and lit review = teh good

  1. Bill Tozier says:

    My esteemed colleague. Surely you will be amused when I link to this article in the notes on your book, right? Irony tends to be less annoying as we get older, right?

    Say “right”.

    So: What you [all] wrote about coevolutionary systems? Looking at both your bullets above? Check, and check. Score two for the snippets plus the random BibTeX mishmash.

    Sorry. Revise and resubmit. Revel in the irony.

    Ya gotta laugh. It’s funny. Really. Trust me. In a few years, you’ll see it.

    But you still owe me a beer for the Sewell Wright bit. Next year. It’ll keep.

  2. Phi says:

    “Right”, Gracie :-).

    Yeah, it’s sad but true. There are clearly parts of this where we know what’s happening better than others, and I can definitely imagine that the coevol stuff is not our strong suit. Given the deadlines, however, the options become to either recognize that they’re not optimal and move on, or remove them altogether. Sigh.

    I take some comfort in Gaiman’s definition: “a novel can be best defined as a long piece of prose with something wrong with it”. While we’re not aiming for a novel, it’s clear that we have a long piece of prose with something wrong with it :-).

  3. RPWiegand says:

    Well … in fairness … coevolution was one paragraph in a “Misc.” section of the book, right? I’d be more kind to a paper where one very small part was a bit careless with references than if it were pervasive.

    On the other hand, you didn’t cite me, so maybe I should be less forgiving. 8^)

    Actually, I’ve had the opposite problem in the reviewing process. A paper a colleague and I had in GECCO several years ago received only a single review, and it contained generic encouragements and only one negative: “The reference list looks a little short.” Not a useful review.

    I’d like to think it isn’t all about size (too naïve?). It’s the content and salience of the references that matters. Age, though, is always important (though it seems less important as I get older).

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