Worst peer review. Ever.

Twitter (and the rest of the internet) has exploded with outrage at a recent sexist peer review in which the (female) authors were told that they should “…find one or two male biologists to work with (or at least obtain internal peer review from, but better yet as active co-authors), in order to serve as a possible check against interpretations that may sometimes be drifting too far away from empirical evidence into ideologically based assumptions.”

Dr. Fiona Ingelby (University of Sussex, UK) and Dr. Megan Head (Australian National University) submitted a manuscript to journal PLOS ONE, detailing a study into gender differences in the PhD to Postdoc transition. The manuscript was rejected, but the story didn’t end there. In a twist of painful irony, the researchers found themselves the victim of all too common misogyny in science; their reviewer’s comments were less focussed on the quality of their work, and more with how their chromosomes might affect their integrity.

Dr Ingleby told Times Higher Education: “Besides the totally inappropriate sexist comments, the review was full of unconstructive, unspecific criticism…The tone of the review was unnecessarily sarcastic and patronising, and littered with the kinds of petty remarks that I tweeted about. The reviewer stated their opinions as facts throughout the review, without once bothering to support these opinions with any references, and at points their opinions completely contradicted published research that we had cited in the manuscript.”

The manuscript was rejected on the basis of this one review. The authors have since appealed to the journal.

In a statement to Retraction Watch, David Knutson, of PLOS, said “PLOS regrets the tone, spirit and content of this particular review. We take peer review seriously and are diligently and expeditiously looking into this matter. The appeal is in process.”

Twitter has embraced their shared fury and #AddMaleAuthorGate has taken off, accompanied by the prerequisite memes- check out the widget at the end of this post.

H/T Science, Retraction Watch, Times Higher Education

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