Professor Struggles to Find New Ways to Flatter Reviewers

Dr. Dirk Johnson, Professor of Sociology at a regional university in the Midwest of the United States, reports that he’s really struggling to come up with new and innovative ways to flatter reviewers in his author’s note.

“I mean, let’s face it. Reviewers only care about one thing: leveraging power in the peer review process. The contribution of the paper comes a distant second.”

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Johnson explained how he’s fresh out of ideas on how best to conceal his contempt for the reviewers through flattery that borders on deification.

“Reviewer 2 told me that my grasp of critical theory was equivalent to an undergraduate level and recommended that I read and cite an Introduction to Sociology textbook. My first thought, obviously, was to tell him to go f*^k himself, but that won’t do.”

“Instead, I responded, ‘Thank you very much for this insightful comment. It is spot on. You are absolutely right. After a painful session of self-flagellation, I read the undergraduate textbook you suggested, focusing primarily on the chapter covering critical theory. I have now incorporated the insight I gleamed from this superb textbook into the literature review and, of course, cited it.’”

Flattery, coupled with self-deprecation, are the keys to emerging from peer review victorious, according to a recent study from the American Institute of Academic Research.

“Now, more than ever, broken and bruised reviewers across the nation are desperate to have their ideas, regardless of merit, respected and revered. They obviously hate their pathetic lives and derive their only sense of satisfaction from the power imbalance they hold over colleagues.”

Dr. Johnson, in a shocking revelation of his insecurities, admitted that, after four rounds of revise and resubmit, his manuscript was indeed slightly improved from the first draft, and that he never could have achieved that trivial improvement were it not for the patient guidance and close attention to detail of the reviewers.

“Look, I was wrong, okay? The first draft I submitted was crap. Now it’s slightly better than crap and this achievement never would have been possible without the reviewers.”

Asked what advice he had for early career researchers responding to reviewers’ comments, Dr. Johnson didn’t hold back.

“You can’t ever let yourself think that you know better than the reviewers. You don’t. You’re a pathetic turd, just like me. It’s best to treat the relationship as that of master and slave.”

He continued, “The most effective way to show your deference is to get yourself a good thesaurus. Find as many variations as you can of words like ‘grateful,’ ‘indebted,’ ‘insight,’ and ‘helpful,’ and use them liberally in your author’s note.”

As this article went to press, Dr. Johnson is reported to be curled up in a fetal position in his office, silent tears streaming down his face and candy bar wrappers strewn across the floor.

Professor Andrew R. Timming

This article is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.

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