Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reviewers in spite ?

I received a review for my paper like a week ago. The decision was a revision. I don't mind revisions as long as they are reasonable but there was something strange about how the editors and reviewers acted. So let me start by giving a brief intro.

Let calls an old problem P (very useful for variety of applications); another related problem called RP. 
NS= novel solution by me and my collaborators ; NSRP= novel solution for RP (has got nothing to do with me or my collaborators)

Now, we got 4 reviews; two reviews were favorable and one of them was extremely detailed.
two reviews were not so favorable. Here's the funny part;. the two reviews that were not favorable assumed that the problem being discussed in the paper was RP and a solution linked to NSRP is being presented. 

Then I asked myself, was the story told well? were we not clear enough? I wouldn't comment on how good story was but I can claim at least this: We made explicitly clear that the proposed solution had nothing to with RP. 

If the reviewers didn't like the story, or the writing was not up to the standards they could have criticized it, right? Instead what we got was half broken reviews telling us that the solution to the NSRP has been presented by blah blah and the contribution that we are presenting is trivial. I am willing to get criticized for not presenting a more contributing manuscript but at least criticize me for what I am saying, not what you think I am saying !

More over we got the reviews after 8 months! yes you read it right..after 8 months and that also by repeatedly requesting the editor(s). Leaving aside all the questions about the manuscript I have to ask this: Is it possible that the two reviewers did this in spite just to delay the publication? FSP notes that apparently the editor can sink a manuscript ? would there also be reviewers that would give spiteful and non-constructive reviews just because they might be one of your competitors trying to solve the same problem? 


Monday, February 7, 2011

How much is enough?

The post by Academic Jungle coincided by a few occasions in my lab that inspired the following question:

How much contribution is enough contribution to have your name in the paper as one of the co-authors?

Two scenario's arose this week:

1) I submitted a paper in one of the conferences. In my field, preliminary results are generally published in conferences. I included a name of one of my colleague as a co-author; the reason being his very useful input in producing whatever we were trying to achieve. Although he was not involved in the actual 'work' that we did, his input was necessary for the system to run.

2) On the other hand, I was on the giving end; i.e. one of my colleagues had a problem that I had particular expertise in . Mind you that these guys were 'discussing' the problem for two days or more. When I was asked the particular set of questions, I added my two cents making them do what they have been trying to do for the past two days. Point to note here is that my name was not included in the co-authors despite the fact that my input was imperative for their system to work. My other colleague who was involved in the same work, but didn't had any 'intellectual' input. The only input that he had was the routine menial work that every one knows and do on routine basis(and of course is necessary for publishing the paper).

Question is how much is enough to include someone in one of your co-authors? and if the input from one of the colleague is intellectual in nature, and from another you get something like routines work that is also important for the paper; how do one quantify the relative positions of the co-authors in the paper?