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There is not a single paper I published that I wouldn’t have changed in retrospect. Usually it’s because I regret giving in too quickly to bad “suggestions” from referees. But even when I was happy with the final version of the paper when I submitted it, I see things differently after a couple of months. Luckily, the journal system, with all its faults, at least don’t let us keep rewriting our papers. Otherwise, we might have got this


I enjoyed reading Graham Cormode’s guide for the adversarial reviewer in computer science (pdf)

h/t Haris

Peer review is a painful process both to authors and to referees, and I gather from Eilon’s post that editors are not thrilled with it either. This, I believe, is in part because we game theorists expect the referee not only to judge the paper, but also to discuss the paper more than is necessary to justify the judgment, and, even worse, to suggest ways to improve the paper.

This is why we produce long reports, sometimes of low quality because we force ourselves to write something even when we have nothing valuable to say. Sure, the referee’s feedback can be useful — As Eilon says, some authors believe that it is actually worth the delay in publication even when the paper is bound to be rejected. But even in these cases I think the effort to write the report is not worth the small audience that the report will receive. If the referee has some interesting observation or criticism about the paper, why hide it from the rest of community ?

This is why I suggest that the profession adopt the guidlines of The Annals of Statistics, which to my knowledge are common in math and physics journals

you are not expected to rewrite the paper or to suggest major revisions or avenues for further research. Your role is simply to recommend whether or not the paper should be published.

I am getting too many requests to referee `quantum games’ papers, and while I am very enthusiastic about the interface of game theory and quantum physics, there is a certain strand of this literature which in my view misses the point of game theory. Since I find myself copy-pasting from previous reports I wrote, I thought I should make my stance public. This post is a generic referee report. If you think my criticism shows that I am too narrow minded to understand your paper then I recommend that you ask the editor not to send it to me. If you have already read this post in a rejection letter then I hope we can still be friends. I am mostly going to rely on EWL’s paper which is a seminal paper in this literature (350 citations in google scholar) and the most mathematically coherent that I know.

Read the rest of this entry »

When I come across a theory in physics or biology or philosophy that is discredited by the leading figures in its field, I am not automatically dismissive. But, without opening Nico Benschop’s book in which he provides elementary proofs of FLT and Goldbach’s Conjecture, I am certain that the proofs are incorrect. Sorry dude, I admire your audacity and I would love to see a story about a misunderstood genius in mathematics comes true, but I am a Bayesianist, and my prior of you being right in this matter is precisely zero. Double standard ? You bet. Read the rest of this entry »


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