RE: Do Document Reviews Provide Signifcant Feedback?

Subject: RE: Do Document Reviews Provide Signifcant Feedback?
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Tony Markos" <ajmarkos -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 13:13:58 -0500

Geoff Hart said...

> Tony Markos wondered: <<Someone recently posted about having people
> review his/her up to 600 page manuals. Can such reviews result in
> significant feedback such as reorgan1zation suggestions or the filling
> of logical "holes", or will feedback on text be limited to minnor
> corrections?>>
> This depends on the reviewer and on your instructions to the reviewer.
> Someone who is really interested in doing a good review will do so
> or without your instructions, but will do a much better job of
> on the things you consider most important if you provide clear
> instructions as to what is important. Someone who isn't interested in
> the review process will try to get through it as fast as possible,
> doing as little work as possible, and will do a shoddy review if you
> don't provide sufficient motivation (threats or rewards, as the case
> may be <g>).
> If you submit a document full of distractions (i.e., typos,
> incomprehensible sentences), even the most stoic reviewer will be
> distracted and will focus on fixing these problems rather than
> concentrating on the meat of the review. I've worked with enough
> scientists and engineers to know that they love catching me in typos
> other infelicities, and if I leave those in the document I send for
> review, they'll fix them instead of concentrating on technical
> correctness. That's not "theory", by the way; it's 20 years of
> experience speaking.
> Indeed, I make a good living these days editing journal manuscripts
> before peer review for authors writing with English as their second or
> third or fourth language. My promise: I'll clean up the document so
> thoroughly that the journal reviewers can actually focus on their
> science, not on how they're describing it. Journal editors love this
> service because it lets them do their job (improving the quality of
> science that gets published through careful peer review) rather than
> fixing the language used to communicate the science.

The service Geoff provides seems extremely useful, given a news article
NPR's "Morning Edition" I heard on the way to work today. A team of
Korean scientists published a paper in an American journal a while back
about progress made with stem cell research. I cut into the story
part-way in, but the gist of it seemed to be that some of the claims
were either completely fraudulent or at least wildly misrepresented.

In light of Geoff's comments, it makes me wonder if the supposed peer
reviewers were focusing on correcting the written English of the Korean
team instead of focusing on details that might have alerted a fellow
scientist that something seemed amiss (whether intentionally deceptive
or somehow improperly translated so as to seem fraudulent).

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