Peer Review

After carefully constructing a research paradigm,

Analysing the data, ensuring all facts align;

It’s time I told others of my latest break through,

But first I must send it out for review.


I search for a journal of prestige and fame,

One that is worthy to carry my name;

Then I format the text in the way I am told,

Using a system that’s tired and old.


Shortly after submitting I receive a reply:

“Dear Dr Illingworth could you please clarify

How you turn science into such art;

Each word that you write goes straight to the heart.

Your research will help re-define our publication!”

Alas, ‘twas just my imagination.

As I wake from my dreaming of nobles and fame

To this auto response of lesser acclaim:

“Your manuscript will be processed in due course.”


In due course,

Nine months, three days, two hours and

Thirty-seven seconds to be exact

An email enters my inbox –

Explodes on impact.


The reviews




Reviewer 1 has these words to say:

“Making sense of this data’s

Like finding needles in hay.”


Reviewer 2 do you have a more open mind?

“I think that this manuscript’s a complete waste of time,

Full of errors and blunders and I don’t want wish to be mean


It reads like an essay from a misguided teen.”


Reviewer three, please say something kind.

“Is this researcher of good health and sound mind?”


Then under these comments

Writing clearly in red

The three syllables that all researchers dread:




My lip starts to wobble,

My eyes start to well;

So I delete the email,

Damn the reviewers to hell!

For I needn’t worry,

This research will bear fruit;

I’ll just submit to a journal of lesser repute.

The Peer Review monster (Image Credit: Gideon Burton; CC BY-SA 2.0).

This is a cathartic poem that I wrote following some recent comments about my research that were less than complimentary. I hope that it helps others to get through similar trials and tribulations…

8 thoughts on “Peer Review”

  1. Wow! This is a great way to deal with bad reviews. It perfectly describes what many of us feel and encounter regularly. And there is something good in the “reject”: We get to read such beautyful poetry 😉

  2. Good job! Now try submitting “Peer Review” to a poetry journal.


    Our reading fee is steep; before you pay,
    find out what it is we want you to say.

    Open to submissions of any form,
    so long as it’s contemporary norm.

    We place no limit on the length you send,
    but be aware short verse is now the trend.

    To read new work, we’ve set two weeks aside
    make sure it’s postmarked then and please provide
    a business envelope (stamped, self-addressed)
    for our reply.
    Your work won’t be assessed.

    We see too much for personal reply.
    You should receive our form that says, “nice try,”
    about six months later and please don’t call
    until months after that, or not at all.

    All submissions will be recycled here,
    so you had better save a copy, Dear.


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