Review of Peer Review

This chain of emails is unaltered except for the removal of identifying information:

On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM, Benjamin Reinhardt <> wrote:

Hello, Would it be possible to get more information regarding the rejection decision on my paper for Conference 2013? Thank you.

On Fri, May 3, 2013 at 9:33 AM, Session chair <session> wrote:

Benjamin, On behalf of myself and my co-Chair, Dr. Other Session Chair(CC’d), let me pass on what information I have regarding the reviews of your paper.

Each paper received at a minimum two (2) peer-reviews. In the particular case of the subject paper, one review rated the paper as overall above average, whereas the second rated it as poor. The first reviewer provided no comments. The comments provided by the second reviewer were:

“While the overall concepts presented in this paper are promising, the paper itself spends too much time discussing the use of FemtoSats in broad terms and not enough time introducing and explaining the particle filter. Furthermore, the paper leans heavily on one particular reference which was written by a separate group of authors and which has yet to be published, which damages the theoretical foundations. I think this could be a very strong paper if the authors re-focus the work to better introduce the overall equations of motion and the nonlinear filter.”

The combined average score for the paper was low, which combined with the specific issues raised by the second reviewer is why it fell below the line with regards to acceptance. Given the large number of papers we were processing (95) and given the short time coupled and wide variety of technical subjects (even within the Spacecraft area) it was not possible for Dr. Other Session Chair and I to personally check each paper to provide a cross check. I regret to be the one to have to pass this news on, but it is everything I have to give you at this point. Best Regards, Session chair

——– Original message ——–From: Benjamin Reinhardt <> Date: 05/03/2013 12:35 PM (GMT-07:00) To: Session chair <session> Subject: Re: Paper Comments Request

Session chair, Thanks for your quick response. I am a little confused, as my paper did not mention FemtoSats at all. Did you send the correct set of comments? Thank you, Ben Reinhardt

Session> Thu, May 16, 2013 at 2:02 AM Reply-To: session chair <session> To:

Benjamin, We resolved the issue. You should have received an acceptance for subject paper from the Conference Organization website. Let me know if thats not the case. Apologies for the confusion. Regards, Session chair


Peer review, a hallowed tradition of science, clearly has problems. Note that if the second reviewer had done the same as the first reviewer and neglected to write a comment, there would have been no way for me to know that my paper had been rejected because it had been mistaken for another. 

Months earlier, I (who could have been anybody) submitted a paper and was given the option to review other submissions. It seemed like it’d be good practice, so I offered to review two papers.

Something seemed off about a system where they sent an un-vetted reviewer papers vaguely related to his claimed area of research and asked him to carefully judge them with pride in his work and faith in the peer review process as his only incentives to do a good job. My suspicions were clearly justified.

Skin in the game: It’s just as important in science as anywhere else.


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