“Reviewer 2” is a popular name and meme for the peer reviewer of a manuscript that is characteristically “rude, vague, smug, committed to pet issues, theories, and methodologies, and unwilling to treat the authors as peers” (ref). An analysis of these types of reviews found characteristics such as “attitude markers (eg, verbs like “reject”, sentence adverbs like “absurdly”, and adjectives like “illogical”), self-mention (eg, “I cannot possibly imagine”) and boosters (eg, “the manuscript is utterly ridiculous”)” (ref, cited by ref).
Some of the issues that authors typically have with Reviewer 2 include:
- Harsh criticism: Reviewer 2 may be known for providing harsh, overly critical feedback that can be discouraging to authors, especially new and young researchers. Such comments may be perceived as unnecessarily harsh or unhelpful, which can create a negative perception of the reviewer.
- Inconsistent feedback: Reviewer 2 may provide inconsistent feedback, making it difficult for authors to understand what changes they need to make to their work. This inconsistency can lead to confusion and frustration.
- Unconstructive feedback: Reviewer 2 may provide feedback that is not constructive, which can be frustrating for authors who are trying to improve their work. Unconstructive feedback can include comments that are vague or not specific enough, or that don’t offer any suggestions for how to improve.
- Lack of expertise: Reviewer 2 may not have the necessary expertise to review a particular piece of work, which can lead to inaccurate or irrelevant feedback. Authors may feel that Reviewer 2 is not qualified to review their work and may discount their feedback.
- Personal biases: Reviewer 2 may have personal biases that color their feedback, which can be frustrating for authors who feel that their work is being judged unfairly. Personal biases can include anything from political beliefs to personal preferences for a particular writing style.
I found the reviews of the first paper I submitted.
Reviewer 1: “The manuscript is acceptable as a Research Methods paper”.#Reviewer2: “… for a minute I wondered whether the request for review was a test to see whether or not I am awake. I am.”#academia #resilience pic.twitter.com/xbpUyUFXul
— Kathryn Amos (@sediAus) August 14, 2020
Peer review can be thankless work. But imagine that it wasn’t. Imagine that you are writing a review that the author will genuinely thank you for. Maybe not today … but someday. If the paper is accepted, you want to feel that you’ve played a small role in helping to strengthen it, and the author should feel a bit prouder of their work. And even if the paper is rejected, you’d like the authors to feel they have gained something of value. For some authors, the idea that a reviewer really engaged with and took their writing seriously is affirming, even if the decision is to reject. So don’t be a Reviewer 2 who leaves writers disillusioned and discouraged. Be that reviewer who engages and encourages. That reviewer who, a year hence, might get invited for coffee at a conference as gratitude for the role you played in strengthening the author’s manuscript. (link)
There is even a Facebook group, Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped!, a Twitter user, Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped! and a website, Shit my reviewers say.
Peer review | Fake peer review
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