Choke on it.
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 96 20:54:25 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Choke on it.
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Dan Wallach <dwallach@CS.Princeton.EDU>
To: Editor, Archives of General Psychiatry
Dear Sir, Madame, or Other:
Enclosed is our latest version of MS #85-02-22-RRRRR, that is, the
re-re-re-revised version of our paper. Choke on it. We have again
rewritten the entire manuscript from start to finish. We even changed
the goddamned running head! Hopefully we have suffered enough by now to
satisfy even your bloodthirsty reviewers.
I shall skip the usual point-by-point description of every single
change we made in response to the critiques. After all, it is fairly
clear that your reviewers are less interested in details of scientific
procedure than in working out their personality problems and sexual
frustrations by seeking some sort of demented glee in the sadistic and
arbitrary exercise of tyrannical power over hapless authors like
ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches. We do understand
that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths you have on your editorial
board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren't
reviewing manuscripts they'd probably be out mugging old ladies or
clubbing baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviewers, C
was clearly the most hostile, and we request that you not ask her or
him to review this revision. Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four
or five people we suspected of being reviewer C, so if you send the
manuscript back to them the review process could be unduly delayed.
Some of the reviewers comments we couldn't do anything about. For
example, if (as reviewer C suggested), several of my ancestry were
indeed drawn from other species, it is too late to change that. Other
suggestions were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and
benefited. Thus, you suggested that we shorten the manuscript by 5
pages, and we were able to do this very effectively by altering the
margins and printing the paper in a different font with a smaller
typeface. We agree with you that the paper is much better this way.
One perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions #13-28 by
reviewer B. As you may recall (that is, if you even bother reading the
reviews before doing your decision letter), that reviewer listed 16
works the he/she felt we should cite in this paper. These were on a
variety of different topics, none of which had any relevance to our work
that we could see. Indeed, one was an essay on the Spanish-American War
from a high school literary magazine. the only common thread was that
all 16 were by the same author, presumably someone reviewer B greatly
admires and feels should be more widely cited. To handle this, we have
modified the introduction and added, after the review of relevant
literature, a subsection entitled "Review of Irrelevant Literature" that
discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the more
asinine suggestions by other reviewers.
We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and finally
recognize how urgently deserving of publication this work is. If not,
then you are an unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human
decency. You ought to be in a cage. May whatever heritage you come from
be the butt of the next round of ethnic jokes. If you do accept it,
however, we wish to thank you for your patience and wisdom throughout
this process and to express our appreciation of your scholarly insights.
To repay you, we would be happy to review some manuscripts for you;
please send us the next manuscript that any of these reviewers sends to
Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote
acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we
liked this paper much better the way we originally wrote it but you held
the editorial shotgun to our heads and forced us to chop, reshuffle,
restate, hedge, expand, shorten, and in general convert a meaty paper
into stir-fried vegetables. We couldn't or wouldn't, have done it
without your input.
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my decision letter concerning
the above-referenced piece of excrement.
I have asked several experts who specialize in the area of research you
dabble in to have a look at your pathetic little submission, and their
reviews are enclosed. I shall not waste my LaserJet ink reiterating
the details of their reviews, but please allow me to highlight some of
the more urgent points of contention they raise:
1. Reviewer A suggests that you cite his work EXCLUSIVELY in the
introduction. He has asked me to remind you that he spells his name
with a final "e" (i.e., Scumbage), not as you have referenced him in
the last version.
2. Reviewer C indicates that the discussion can be shortened by at
least 5 pages. Given the fact that the present Discussion is only three
pages long, I am not certain how to advise you. Perhaps you might
consider eliminating all speculation and original ideas.
3. Reviewer D has asked that you consider adding her as a co-author.
Although she has not directly contributed to the manuscript, she has
made numerous comments that have, in her view, significantly improved
the paper. Specifically, she believes that her suggestions concerning
the reorganization of the acknowledgments paragraph were especially
important. Please note that she spells her name with an em-dash, and
not with the customary hyphen.
4. Reviewer B has asked that I inform you that, even though his
suggestions were not mentioned in my decision letter, this doesn't mean
that he is an imbecile.
5. My own reading of the manuscript indicates that the following
a. By "running head," we do not mean a picture of your son's face
with legs attached. Please provide a four- or five-word title for the
paper that summarizes the report's most important point. May I suggest,
"Much Ado About Nothing"?
b. Please make certain that you have adhered to APA stylebook
guidelines for publication format. Please direct your attention to the
section entitled, "Proper Format for an Insignificant Paper" (1995, p.46).
c. Please submit any revision of the paper on plain, blank stationery.
Submitting the article on Yale University letterhead will not increase your
chances of having the article accepted for publication.
d. Please doublecheck the manuscript for spelling and grammatical
errors. Our experience at the Archives is that "cycle-logical" slips
through most spell-check programs undetected.
e. Although I am not a quantitative scientist, it is my understanding
that the "F" in F-test does not stand for "f___ing". Please correct the
Prof. Art Kives
If your original submission had been as articulate as your most recent
letter, we might have avoided this interchange. It is too bad that
tenure and promotion committees at your university do not have access
to authors' correspondence with editors, for it is clear that you would
be promoted on the basis of your wit alone. Unfortunately, it's the
publication that counts, and I'm sorry to say that the Archives is not
prepared to accept this revision. We would be perfectly ambivalent
about receiving a ninth revision from you.
© 1996 Peter Langston