Should I review this?

I have just received an invitation to review an article by a publisher that’s — let’s say “less established”. Given that they have been accused of being a predatory publisher in the past, I was at first positively surprised: There was none of this silly flattering of being a leading expert etc. and they apparently did try to get a proper review. Then came the title and the abstract. It had “public attitudes” in it, and a “scoping review” — so if you allow for synonyms in the keyword search, I can see how their machine picked me, but if no human is involved, neither am I (irrespective of the fact that this was utterly out of my expertise). Maybe we should react with automatized reviews, a fork of SciGen perhaps?

Dear author… I did put in some thought in my review…

Dear author,

I sometimes get a bit annoyed when your colleagues seemingly feel like they have to slavishly implement any odd thought I mention as if it was me and not the editor deciding whether the paper gets accepted (even when I explicitly write “I encourage the author(s) to consider X, and then make up their own mind”), but that’s not you. You thought that none of my comments applied to you when the editor rejected the paper last time around, and perhaps hoped you’d get “lucky” next time at a different journal. Did you realize reviewer 1 and I volunteer our time to help improve your work? Do you actually care about the contents of your paper, or is it just a line on your CV?

(end frustration)

Yours sincerely,

Reviewer 2

Does it have to be a pain to submit a review?

I’ve just submitted a review for a potential journal article online. They [the publisher] use one of these systems where there is no direct link to log in (or it’s not set up to do this), and because apparently I didn’t update the password in the password manager last time I changed it, I had to reset it. Easy enough. My first password was rejected because it failed their password rules (compare: and insert your favourite qualifier for these rules). Next I have to “update” my personal details, no skipping allowed. Yes, it’s absolutely necessary for them to know my city! Did they forget that I’m offering my time for this?

Image credit: cc-by davitydave

What is a maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER)?

Maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER) are relatively rare positions which were apparently introduced in universities in the French-speaking area of Switzerland in the 1990s.

MER are part of the corps intermédiaire (German: Mittelbau) along with PhD researchers and postdoctoral researchers. They are very similar to the Maître-assistante (MA) positions, also unique to French-speaking universities in Switzerland, as far as I know, with the only difference that MER are open-ended after evaluation, whereas MA positions are fixed-term (this makes MER the only positions in the corps intermédiaire that can be open-ended).

As other positions of the corps intermédiaire, MER are not part of the decision-making in universities, normally have no assistants, and may be excluded from some internal resources. They are attached to a chair, which limits independence in teaching and research, and typically teach more than professors. Despite the R in the name, apparently some MER effectively teach full time. Compared to professors, MER and MA have a lower salary and are often employed part-rime. Unlike Lecturers in the British system, no promotion is foreseen for MER (at all). In this sense, the ‘official’ translation of MER (and MA) into ‘senior lecturer’ is inaccurate.

Image credit: CC-by Jeena Paradies