Prof. Eve Marder, from Brandeis University, was one of the founder editors of eLife, a scientific journal launched in 2012, one of the few journals that is still run by working scientists, as opposed to so-called “professional” editors, like most of the commercial journals.
Dr. Marder wrote recently an opinion article for the journal in which she sharply criticises the kinds of words, often derogatory, that reviewers use when judging research papers, grants and appointments.
She writes: “Over the years I have grown to truly abhor some of the words that are overused and abused when we review manuscripts, job candidates, and grant applications. In particular, I now detest five words: incremental, novelty, mechanism, descriptive, and impact. These words are codes behind which we hide, and are frequently used in lieu of actual explanations of what people think about the subject at hand.”