The peer-review process is not perfect and this is not always realised, especially by upcoming scientists and PhD students. Reviews can be horrible, great, unreasonable, off-the-point, encouraging, and this list goes on...the trick is not to dismiss reviews by saying "these guys clearly did not understand my paper" and not to be de-moralised thinking "if I'm getting such reviews, I would never succeed in science".
This is an experimental attempt to provide insight into the reviewing process, mainly as a training-experience for upcoming scientists. If you find this useful or have any other comments please get in touch. Do also get in touch if you would like to share excerpts from reviews you received.
In the following, some excerpts are slightly edited to make them more anonymous. Excerpts relating to the same paper are listed under the same number. Notes from me are given in italic. Enjoy...
4a. Overall, I think this study is a rare, first-principle contribution to microbial ecology and I am very enthusiastic about it.
4b. While the model does produce some interesting results, the results are not sufficient to warrant the author's conclusion. In particular;
4c. The ... model has been developed by others. NOTE: the work uses a generic model to apply it to a new question.
4d. Theory does nothing to explain the ...., so it has limited scope. NOTE: the work does not attempt to explain .....
3a. While the origin of ... is interesting and important, the results of this study are not novel, particularly in light of ...'s very similar findings.
3b. These findings add an important piece to the puzzle of ...
3c. I think the authors have satisfactorily addressed my comments.
3d. I am generally not convinced by the response.
2a. The paper is well written, but some parts are dense and the fact that the information is spread between the main text, the "Method" section and the supplementary information makes the understanding not always straightforward
2b. This is a modeling paper. The authors should provide the deterministic equations in a clear, human reading form in the main paper.
1a. The first paragraph of the Methods is somewhat redundant with the last paragraph of the Introduction.
1b. There are a limitless number of ways a ... can be modeled. The authors present one possible choice, which has some biological justification.
1c. The ... conclusions are relatively non-sensical
1d. I am very impressed by this manuscript and learned a lot from it...I was initially rather skeptical when I read the Title and Abstract. But the authors have convinced me. Their model seems realistic and it produces a solid prediction.