We write for a living. Daily, we bare our throats to the editorial process. As we’ve grown as a writer, we find ourselves steadily growing more and more OK with our jokes having the sharp edges filed off of them, and the little peculiarities and tics in our prose neatly ground down to an affable samey house style. (Not here. Our Bitter Empresses are kind and merciful. But ghostwriting is a cruel master.)
No matter the daily drubbing our ego gets, we thank our lucky stars daily that we left grad school. We’d rather endure snarling about the number of spaces following a period (two, damn it), than the endless rounds of soul-crushing revision that occurs where the maxim is publish or perish. We have enough trouble with tweaking funny jokes. We wouldn’t be able to survive hostility toward our life’s work.
But then we look at this case above. That’s an excerpt from an allegedly peer-reviewed journal, called Ethology: The International Journal of Behavioral Biology. It’s from this paper, but the highlighted part’s been removed for some reason so don’t shell out for it in the archives. Rest assured that the excerpt was up for four months before anybody caught it. The paper’s principal investigator is running scared and falling all over himself with apologies (ya think?), and poor Caitlin Gabor, who no doubt does excellent work, is pissed.
All kinds of obscene errors can pass through the editorial process, even when several eyes are looking over the work in question. But this? We could never pull this one past our editors.
Clearly, we went into the wrong business. Snarky blog posts and ghostwritten SEO pieces receive far more scrutiny than peer-reviewed scientific papers do.
We’ll take our solace in knowing that nobody reads academic journals, not even their editorial staff.