I was recently invited to review a manuscript having a degree of overlap with my work, which puzzled me slightly as I don’t get asked to do so very often (which I kind of like also); hardly surprising, as I’m not of the scientific firmament, the publication section of my CV being woefully short. However, I knuckled down to it, quite enjoyed it actually, and provided, within the requested period, what I considered to be fair and balanced criticisms, suggestions and questions – which, importantly in my opinion, demonstrated that I had actually read the thing – and recommended resubmission of a revised version.
By way of contrast, I’ve just managed to acquire a copy of a paper published two months back, which very much, I wouldn’t say overlaps, more overlays, my work – and I’m puzzled in this instance as to why I wasn’t invited to review.
Because I would have canned it!
The obvious guess is that the submitting author, judging my similar interests as unwanted competition or prejudice, requested the editors not use me as reviewer. Alternatively, the editor(s) may have decided against, even though checking out said publication record would bring realisation that I may perhaps have been prime candidate for the job. Either way, fair enough… but begs the question (which, of course, can’t be answered) – who did review it?! Because anybody with a working familiarity of its subject matter (and there aren’t many of us) must surely be as quizzical as I about one or two of the claims made. And before you assume this is scooped sour-graping, well it isn’t – because I published this stuff six years ago (and that wasn’t original). Excepting one reported extra piece of data, which is actually potentially very significant. Is? Or would be? I don’t claim it isn’t true; but I’m certainly not convinced it is.
What to do?
Interesting dilemma! I wonder if it was the same journal in each case.
As I see it your options are: (1) if the journal that published paper 2 accepts technical comments, or is even modern enough to have online comments on its website, then submit one. (2) write a review or minireview for one of those journals that is always scouring around for such articles, in which you compare paper 1, paper 2 and your own published work (and any other relevant). (3) ignore it.
I can’t think of any other options but maybe others can.
Thanks, Maxine. Have embarked on drafting a letter to the journal (not the same one, by the way) airing my thoughts. But I’m not entirely sure yet whether this is a good idea. I’m certainly not about to repeat some of the experiments in question, as I simply don’t have the time or desire. There’s an element of potential for egg on face. (But then again, like that bothers me… )