This is a collection of some of the best and worst comments I’ve received for papers I’ve submitted and published. I like to go back to them sometimes to remember that reading reviews for my papers, while often helpful in the long run, usually evokes an immediate sensation that is akin to getting my eyes gouged out with a dull grapefruit spoon.
“In one way the test may be too conservative. [. . .] In contrast, the criteria may be too liberal.” -> Two statements made in a single paragraph about the criteria we proposed to evaluate a hypothesis. This is probably my favorite reviewer comment of all time. This was also part of an EPIC review – many pages of comments from the reviewers and associate editor. To date, I have never experienced anything as awful as responding to this review. (The revised manuscript was accepted and published in the same journal, by the way.)
“This is a remarkable paper – excellently written and one of the best I ever reviewed.” -> A comment from a reviewer on a paper that was, nonetheless, rejected by a grumpy associate editor.
“. . . I did not understand what you mean. We are in a science field. If they are mutations you should prove that there are mutations. If you did not find any mutations you cannot state that there are mutations.” -> This was in response to our statement that heritable phenotypic differences between lines were probably based on mutations or epigenetic changes, but that we did not detect said genetic differences using 9 random molecular markers. I really love the “We are in a science field” bit.