The Sassy Scientist – The Twelve Steps (of Academia)

The Sassy Scientist – The Twelve Steps (of Academia)

Furious yet disillusioned by a bunch of anonymous reviewers, of which most have provided zero insight through their nugatory reviews and displaying unambiguous bias towards a non-inflammatory, well-worded and a scientifically substantiated manuscript, Txabi demands to know:

Why are many reviewers still insisting on anonymity?

Dear Txabi,

There is indeed such a segment of the academic community, which includes wayward scholars that adhere to the titillating thrill of anonymity. Unruly dweebs! In this day and age of unbridled sense of community, a massive incentive for coöperation and open access publishing, such pertinacious stance on incognito reviewing seems incongruous. At the very least. Why would anyone perform all that work of diligent reviewing, and then not take credit for the result? Even though that result may be a blunt recommendation of rejection with no chance of resubmission. Or are they afraid for reprisals? You don’t want to run the risk of having your own manuscript axed, a manuscript for which you have spilled plenty of blood, sweat and (mostly) tears yourself nonetheless. A lack of anonymity also means that you actually need to make an effort and perform a thorough review, and not slack impudently. The oiks should know better. And so should we, as it appears that raising the standard has failed. Yet again. We are to blame, therefore. Not even to a lesser extent, as enablers are much more so part of this problem. As they are in any other problem. I graciously draw your attention to the recently founded AA (Academics Anonymous). Whereas there are ever so many issues such organization could be established for, this honorable bunch focuses on expunging reviewer anonymity. A honorable cause indeed! Please continue below to check out their leaflet plastered across my inbox recently. Praise be!


The Twelve Steps of Academia

  1. Acknowledge those downsides associated with anonymity, and that your moral standing washed away once you strayed away from the path of openness. Even if you did so unwillingly and you felt powerless in doing so.
  2. Contemplate the richness open access science entails. Whether it is the need to be open and forthcoming about sharing data and providing software, or indeed non-anonymous reviewing.
  3. Decide to give yourself over to this higher power of proper academic methodology. Even if it is the hard thing to do.
  4. Make up a balance of your academic prowess. Be honest with yourself, and consider all of the faulted decisions associated with your choices of anonymous reviewing.
  5. After doing so, share your findings (as you would now normally do) with your colleagues and friends (maybe even a student or two).
  6. Be open minded and ready to let the wonders of open access science wash away your mistakes from the past.
  7. Actually let them wash away.
  8. Dive deep into your memory, remember all of your past transgressions, and try and find the people behind those mistakes.
  9. Try and apologize to them. Directly. Honestly. Undeniably. And for accommodating this type of wrongdoing, the journals should take their responsibilities too.
  10. Pursue the self-reflection. Neverendingly.
  11. Continue on the path of enlightenment and keep up to date with the latest guidelines on open science practices. Don’t forget to check every week!
  12. As a good little scientist, one must frolic in the knowledge that sharing this very moral standard can only bring joy to others… in the long run, at least.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written without a wisp of irony.

PS2: Please redirect any and all issues you would like to raise on the topic of the AA here.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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