Scientists have sense of humour, shock
"This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author's email".
Hardly the sort of dry, dispassionate, technical assessment you expect from one researcher about another's work, but it seems that scientists are human after all.
That's the verdict after the Journal of Environmental Microbiology chose to publish some of the wittier one-liners from referees involved in the peer review process.
The results veer from the downright rude - "The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style" - via the enigmatic - "Preliminary and intriguing results...that should be published elsewhere" - to the artlessly charming - "Very much enjoyed reading this one and do not have any significant comments. Wish I had thought of it."
Much of the vitriol can be put down to the pressures of competition. Inevitably, referees are picked from a pool that includes an author's closest rivals. Other comments seem deliberately designed to try the patience of the journal's editors.
"I agreed to review this in the golden glow of a balmy evening on Lake Como. Back in the harsh light of reality in Belfast I realise that it would probably have been better not to have volunteered".
On the whole though it's the acerbic viciousness that catches the eye. "The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home and then spend time to wonder what life is about," writes one reviewer.
Speaking on the programme this morning the neurologist professor Colin Blakemore acknowledged there was a long and celebrated history to the caustic review.
"Hans Krebs' classic paper on the Krebs cycle, perhaps the most important development in cell biology in the 20th century, was rejected by Nature. They said it was of insufficient general interest. He went on to win the Nobel prize for that".
With apologies to William Congreve, it seems Hell hath no fury like a scientist scorned.