Monday, 17 April 2017

The other journals

Hi rats,

Last year I had the pleasure of writing a piece for “Investigación y Ciencia”, the Spanish edition of Scientific American. Curiosities: 

a)       I was paid. 

b)      A graphic designer improved all my pictures and created a fantastic layout for the paper. 

c)       The editor read the whole article, made reasonable suggestions to improve the science communication and even wrote the abstract. 

d)      “Investigación y Ciencia” sent me two copies of the issue by regular mail.

Now compare this with the experience of publishing in a scientific journal, where, in addition to writing and editing the paper yourself, they expect you to pay obscene prices on concepts such as “internet access to your own 5-page paper” and the ever-intriguing “publication costs” (Holy Molly, 3,700 euros!!! Did they hire scribe monks to write a special edition on human skin?).

In this first post after a long silence, I will talk about journals. I won’t speak about the usual suspects, though, but about all those Physics journals which I never touched in my previous letters. Don’t get me wrong: my attitude towards Nature, Science and PNAS hasn’t changed. However, very rarely we acknowledge that there are serious problems with all the other journals as well.

My teeth are ready to bite.

Physical Review


The people working for PR call themselves “editors”, just like the people who work for Scientific American. How do they dare? What do they edit, apart from the title (when it starts with “the” or “a”) and the acknowledgements (when they make too evident that the paper was written by a human)? The only time that I recall PR editing anything in any of my papers was when a PRA proof editor refused to let me finish a sentence with an exclamation mark, because “according to our editorial rules, the exclamation mark is reserved for the factorial”. Factorial[Your editorial rules suck].

True, they don’t edit anything, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t work. On the contrary, PR editors seem to spend a considerable amount of time carrying out the following activities:

1) They choose the referees.

The problem is, they’re not very good at this. Am I the only one who thinks that, in the last few years, publishing in PRL is like playing Russian roulette? Here are some common reviews:

“The paper must be accepted, because the authors do this, this and that”. 

We do nothing of the sort, but thanks for accepting our paper.

“It is a very good paper, and I’m sure that it will attract the attention of the community in quantum information theory. However, I don’t see how this can be of interest for the general physics community”.

Please, name a single publication in this month’s issues of PRL that every physicist can understand and appreciate. Do they really exist, or is it like your criterion?

“In their PRL submission, the authors write a theorem. A theorem!”.

Argh! We broke the sacred PRL oath of not stating theorems, propositions or lemmas! Grand Editor, dispose of our bodies as you like. Break them, dismember them, burn them at the stake!

2) They decide which papers get an “editorial suggestion”.

Whenever I imagine the selection procedure, cephalopod fortune-tellers, counting rhymes and Uri Geller always come to mind. Because if we give credit to the official explanation, namely, that the editors read all the issue’s papers and carried a thorough choice, then we are much closer to the end of science than John Horgan ever dreamed. Seriously, wasn’t there anything better to highlight than this, this or this? What the hell were you thinking, PR editors?

3) They enforce a number of editorial rules written in two tablets of stone that PR keeps in an ark.

PR has editorial rules for everything. And when I say everything, I really mean everything. Just have a look at their policies for acknowledgments: they are at one step from writing your acknowledgments themselves. In addition: don’t write O(log(n)), but O(log_{10}(n))]; don’t use the word ‘new’; don’t dare call a 3-page PRA submission “letter”… The worst is when a proof editor asks you to “complete” a reference for which you already provided title, author, year, edition and publishing house. Sometimes I waste three hours of my time searching the damned city of the publisher, that no one in the world except PR cares about, and doesn’t even feature in the inside of the book. I wrote a 24-page paper, give me a break! Find the reference yourself and earn your salary, for goodness sake!


A total disaster. I give them seven stars out of ten.

Communications in Mathematical Physics


Since a bunch of frustrated mathematicians took over the journal years ago, I doubt that a young Stephen Hawking could now publish there his ideas about particle creation in black holes. Only in CMP you’ll get reviews like: “this theorem is trivial, because the proof uses linear algebra”. 

I copy from their website:

“The mission of Communications in Mathematical Physics is to offer a high forum for works which are motivated by the vision and the challenges of modern physics and which at the same time meet the highest mathematical standards.”

Most people would understand the last bit as “we demand mathematical rigor”. Unfortunately, many CMP editors interpret it as “the proof must be very long”. A CMP editor might retain your submission for several months before informing you that your proof is not long enough for CMP. Don't expect any apologies or explanations for the delay.

“That I owe you an apology? I don’t owe you anything, you miserable sub-mathematician! Now leave me alone: I’m trying to picture a ten-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold… Mmm… yes! YES! Ooohhh, BABY! Feel my “four-momentum”! Shake those “regions of positive curvature”! Let's ride together to the event horizon!”.

To summarize:

Do you like showing off your mathematical erudition? Do you think that physicists are stupid because they don’t know category theory? Do you feel lost when there is not a list of "important problems in the field"? Then you’re an idio CMP is your journal!

Did you prove an important result in less than four pages? Do you hope to start a new research line? Did you motivate your research at the introduction of the paper? Then do yourself a favor and leave science consider another journal.


I like CMP a lot: 7/10 stars.

New Journal of Physics


The name is misleading, because the journal is 10 years old. It used to be selective, but nowadays it will publish whatever crap as long as one pays the crazy publication fees (around 1,500 euros). Sometimes, the editors “invite you” to participate in a special issue, a privilege for which they charge you even more. The legend says: if you accept, ten editors from NJP will raid your home, tie you naked to a nearby street lamp and beat you on the back with old PRA issues while they call you “suckerlamper”. Because you're worth it.

Trivia: the worst paper I ever wrote was published there. It was rejected from PRA, and no wonder.


Better give your money to a charity. 7/10 stars.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


I know, I said that I wouldn’t mention high-impact journals. But seriously, something needs to be done: it is undeniably difficult to publish in PNAS any theoretical result in QI that is not related to Leggett-Garg inequalities. Almost everything other than that is either completely misunderstood or labeled as “relevant for quantum information science, but not for other fields” by an “anonymous editor”. To this, I ask:

a) are there many PNAS publications in, say, astrophysics, which are also important for fields other than astrophysics?

b) IQC, IQS, you have in the advisory board a 79 year old man who, not only has never published a single paper on QI, but also seems to hate the entire field. Why do you keep him? Is it just for the sex?


The best journal I’ve always been rejected from. 7/10 stars.

Those have been the problems. What are the solutions? My advice (for the moment) is: submit everything to Quantum. It’s a non-profit journal, so it won’t suck up your budget. Moreover, its editors are reasonable researchers. I doubt I’ll be writing about them in the future.

Yours faithfully,

Schrödinger’s Rat

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Letter to a European Research Council referee

Dear motherfuc referee,

Thanks very much for your insightful comments. Below I discuss some of your deep observations.

Ground-breaking nature and potential impact of the research project: 
Multidisciplinary proposal. The physics part is rather weak in terms of possible achievements and originality.

I see that you managed to summarize your opinion about my five-page project synopsis in just one line. You must be exhausted. Other referees would have copied one or two sentences from the abstract just to give the impression that they actually read the proposal. But you’re right: why pretend? Actually, why did you bother writing anything at all? Next time, send a disgusted emoticon, “unfollow” my proposal, or just type: “GRAAAAAHHH!” in order to express your “pondered opinion” about my work.

The I-spit-on-your-ERC-proposal emoticon, soon in 90% of all ERC evaluation reports.
Yes, my friend, mine is a multidisciplinary proposal. The goal is to develop a computational framework to reason about infinity in quantum mechanics. I’m sure that every day you evaluate hundreds (or millions!) of proposals just like mine, and that’s why you didn’t regard it as original as, say, entanglement detection or quantum simulations with an ion trap. It is certainly not as original as texting an ERC referee report from your iPhone while driving over postdocs in the park, as you plainly do during working hours.

You write that"the physics part is rather weak in terms of possible achievements". I see. For you, demonstrating experimentally that the world is infinite-dimensional is a weak achievement. Let me ask you: what qualifies as a strong achievement? Building a time machine? Attaining immortality? Typing a ten-line report with your penis?

Principal Investigator
To what extent has the PI demonstrated the ability to propose and conduct groundbreaking research? Very good.
To what extent does the PI provide evidence of creative independent thinking? Very good.
To what extent have the achievements of the PI typically gone beyond the state of the art? Very good.

Comments (Optional for reviewers)
Average past performance and impact.

According to the applicant's guide, “very good” is just one grade above being declared “not competent”. Geez, pal, thanks a lot for not recommending the ERC to lock me in a mental institution!

I find your scores very surprising, though, because I would have thought that my work on the characterization of quantum correlations was groundbreaking at the t... but, oh, my God! I forgot that Toni Acín, my PhD advisor, also signed that paper!!! It is obvious that Toni proposed the project, conducted the research and wrote the paper single-handedly; then he put me as first author because I sodomized him brought him coffee. So you’re right, that paper doesn’t prove anything.

How about the rest of the achievements that I summarized in the Achievements section* of my CV? There you can find many instances of creative, independent work, and… ah, you didn’t read it.

My fault: I should have placed a picture of a crucified postdoc in order to get your attention. Besides, if my achievements were so advanced, surely one of them would have acquired self-consciousness, escaped from the CV and tried to contact you. Nothing like that happened, unless at that precise moment you were too busy sculpting jars with postdoc skulls, so that you can drink their blood and live forever.

*Judging from the referee reports, the Achievements Section is a goblin-like mythological creature that lives at the end of my CV and no ERC referee can see.

You might think that I’m being a bit harsh on you, my dear referee. But you must understand. Right after screwing someone’s scientific career with pearls like: “average past performance and impact”, you should at least have the decency to discuss the applicant’s past achievements and argue why they are “average”. Could it be, my dear referee, that you just went through my publications, saw that they didn't have many citations and concluded that my work was “average”?

Then answer this, you vile amoeba! How many citations did John Bell's 1964 paper have for the first ten years? How many citations did Werner’s paper on local entangled states gather between 1989 and 1995? How many citations did the BB84 paper have in 1993? Do you, in your stupid, simplified and self-complacent view of the world, believe that all these papers were lame until year 2000, when they –all of a sudden- became breakthroughs?

“Oh!”, you could say (though in your case I bet it’d sound more like: “HEEHAW!”), “but nowadays quantum information is a well established field! What is your excuse to get so few references?”.

It is ridiculous to put all QI scientists in the same lot: if you don’t know this, you shouldn’t be a referee for the ERC. QI has different subfields, and average citation numbers vary widely between them. Foundations-related research does not get many citations because the community is small and fragmented. It’s not like in quantum computer science, where every year the whole community works on essentially five different problems and any progress whatsoever gets highly cited.

“But even in nonlocality some people get a lot of citations. Why can’t you be like them?”

As you perfectly know, nowadays papers are rarely cited to acknowledge inspiration or to invoke mathematical results: they mainly get referenced at the introduction of other papers, whose authors want to convince journal editors that “our topic is very interesting, because all these other people have worked on vaguely related stuff”. So, in order to be cited at an intro, your result must fit perfectly in a well-established paradigm and be twitter-like, that is, summarizable in a few words which, if possible, should rhyme and make a catchy tune (e.g.: “nana nana nana nanaaa... discord!”). Everything else, like novel topics or deep results, is excluded.

For most of my career, I’ve been trying to conduct original research. Now I’m paying the price. Shall I get specific? I love this paper, but, for my life, I cannot imagine anyone citing it in a near future. My paper on the characterization of quantum nonlocality (which, I admit, is not extremely original) hardly had any citations three years after its publication. And my 2009 paper on macroscopic locality started getting citations last year. Why? Because people (finally!) started citing it at intros along with the information causality paper.

“Wait a moment. Not all original works take time to find recognition. Special relativity was successful from the very beginning!”

Exactly: special relativity was not original, even Einstein admitted it. This may surprise you, after how much this word has been devaluated by funding agencies, but not all important discoveries need be original. Think of the finite quantum de Finetti theorem, or the non-additivity of the classical capacity! Do you want more examples? Antiretroviral therapy, global warming, the standard model of particle physics.

Conclusion (this is for you, rats; the referee must have stopped reading a while ago)

ERC is very much like any other grant: it is targeted to individuals with a strong citation record that hints extreme popularity, and to projects which, no matter the outcome, contribute to enhance the candidate’s publication statistics.

Contrarily to institutional propaganda, ERC is not targeted to independent, creative scientists with high risk/high gain, original projects. Even to the average EU bureau-cretin it must be evident that you cannot estimate independence and creativity if you refuse to read the abstract of a single paper of the applicant. As for proposal reviewing, having referees like the android above evaluating originality is like having Alanis Morissette evaluating irony. So let's throw them all to a volcano and start the selection process again: this time we'll ask them to write a poem before trusting their views on whatever the hell they believe creativity is.

Let me finish with this prophecy: ERC-funded theoretical projects will never be high-risk. Why? Because, like with any other grant, you’re expected to specify… -gasp- … every single step … aargh…  of your research program… aarrrghh … in the BLOODY 5-PAGE SYNOPSIIIIIIIIIIIS!! AAAARRRRGHHHH!!! HULK VERY ANGRY!! WICKED ROBO-REFEREE HURT HULK!!! HULK SMASH AND BASH!!! GRRROOOAAAARRRR!!!


When I was a teenage-mutant-ninja-rat, my literature teacher surprised us one morning by announcing an advertising contest. The students had to pretend that they lived in the 17th century and design a poster announcing the second part of Don Quixote. The most original and creative posters would be exhibited!!

My classmates and I were puzzled: the teacher was a control freak, and giving us artistic freedom was completely out of character. Nevertheless, I gave it my best shot: I wrote a humorous pamphlet about Cervantes’ second part of Quixote parodying a “Hello!” magazine front cover.

Not only I didn’t win the contest, but got severely reprimanded by my teacher. She wrote over my poster: “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” and gave me a bad mark.

Later that day, a classmate asked why I looked so grumpy.

I said: “I spent a whole evening coming up with ingenious ideas for that homework, and the teacher doesn’t even think it’s original!”.

My friend smiled. “Miguel”, she said, “have a look at the winning posters”.

I did. The posters were exhibited in the class’ announcing board. There they were: the six of them in all their glory.

One showed a picture of Don Quixote, trotting away on his horse. The poster read: “Reject imitations! Buy yourself a copy of the actual second part of Don Quixote!”. The author of the poster was making reference to Fernández de Avellaneda’s apocryphal sequel of the adventures of Don Quixote.

Now, I don’t need to describe you the rest of the winning posters.

Because the other five said exactly the same.

Yours faithfully,

Schroedinger’s rat

Friday, 22 November 2013

Do not work in Quantum Foundations under any circumstances. Or do so, what the hell.

Hi rats,

Very often, people come and tell me*: “Rat, you are so magnificent! Here you are, a former magician-actor-tap dancer-model-ninja-vampire-master of the universe-Madonna. How come that someone with your obvious talents and –ehem!- sexy muscular body is wasting his time in foundational research? (blink, blink)”.

*Approximate reconstruction.

The answer is complicated. I think I’m not surprising anyone when I say that nowadays Foundations of Physics raises the same expectations as a new star trek movie. For most, Foundations is synonym of mediocre results, low-level mathematics and endless pedantic discussions. And it is true: most works in Foundations (and even whole conferences!) are just like that. One has to dig very, very deep to find that precious gem that makes everything worth it.

In this post, I will try to summarize the good and bad aspects of the field. That way, independently of what you choose to make of your scientific careers, you'll know what you can expect, or what you'll be missing.

Let's start with the cons: working in Foundations sucks when…

1) … someone proposes a lame semi-classical model for photon polarization that actually reduces to the definition of quantum separability when one tries to make physical sense of it. However, since the author holds a Nobel Prize for completely unrelated research, the “discovery” soon becomes a popular topic in Foundations that no amount of logical arguments can kill. Bravo!

A different take on this story, advocated in this note, is that the photon model may be, in fact, scientifically sound. When the laureate defines a model inconsistent with the notion that post-selection is a type of preparation, he’s not making a gross mistake: he’s proving his creative genius by "freeing himself" from this traditionally held assumption*. And when the laureate violently bumps his head against the floor, he’s not stumbling and falling: he’s estimating the density of concrete in public pavements.

*Indeed, how could I be so blind!? Why didn’t I consider the possibility that, after measuring a photon, the universe disappears, or all other photons turn into Toblerone bars?

2) … for the third time, the John Stewart Bell Prize, which is awarded “for significant contributions first published in the [last] 6 years” and “is not intended as a "lifetime achievement" award” (check the rules), goes to senior group leaders.

Dear committee members: Adán Cabello will renege on contextuality before you award the prize to a mere postdoc, so stop giving false hopes to junior researchers. Be honest, remove the six-year requirement from the description of the Prize and give it to Tsirelson. God knows that, if someone deserves the John Stewart Bell Prize, that is Boris Tsirelson, the man who invented quantum Bell inequalities. Like Bell, he had a deep vision that translated into breakthrough results. And, like Bell, his work was largely ignored by the Physics community at the time.

Rats, I say we owe Boris Tsirelson big time: a prize for Tsirelson, now!!

The John Stewart Bell Prize committee, deciding the fate of a postdoc nominee.

3) … people from serious* fields advance a foundational topic by an epsilon (OK, two epsilons), get their results published in Nature and everybody wets their pants. Meanwhile, all other relevant contributions rot.

*Here by “serious” I mean “socially acclaimed”. If you believe that quantum computer science is objectively serious, stop random pedestrians on the street and try to explain them why quantum complexity classes are much more important than, say, epistemic models. If they try to escape, hit them on the head with your gun**.

**You don’t have a gun!? Then, how do you get people to cite your work at introductions and review papers?

4) … two authors publish three times essentially the same result (and I'm not counting the review!).

Why stop there? From this blog I want to propose Colbeck and Renner new ideas to spread their message:
  • “Quantum mechanics is complete”, the coloring book (it’s already colored), and “Quantum mechanics is complete”, the jigsaw puzzle (one piece may be missing).
  • “nIv'e', yu'egh Qap, tugh Qo' (the wave function exists, soon you won’t)”, the Klingon Opera.
  • “Who moved my local part?”, the best-selling book that has helped millions find their true nonlocal selves and now it can help you, too!
  • “The Texas chain Bell inequality”, the independent motion picture directed by Lars von Trier, with Nicole Kidman as the statistical distance and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the random variable Z. All the characters are trapped between the pages of a prestigious journal!
5) … people resort to obscure foundational problems to motivate an elementary experiment, whose results are published in Science.

Seriously, does it make sense to conduct Wheeler’s delayed-choice experiment in the 21st century? In the same line, why not measure the speed of aether, or the weight of a soul?

Experimental demonstration that the pagan god Mawu does not manifest when the pentacle is open. Did Mawu know in advance that we were going to open the pentacle? To appear in Nature Communications.

All right, enough cons for today.

Let's hear the pros: working in Foundations rocks because…

1) … contrary to absurd claims, there IS a measurement problem*.

*The problem is to explain why measurements return a single outcome, not why we don’t see macroscopic superpositions. Decoherence advocates, cut the crap: you’re not advancing the problem at all!

2) … problems are interesting by themselves. Not because you can relate them to algebraic topology, not because solving them will prove everyone how clever you are* and not because Terence Tao has worked on the topic before.

*Electroshock, please.

3) … there is room for imagination.

OK, rats, this has been all. I hope that this post has inspired you to do something productive, like insulting me in the comments meditating on deep foundational issues. It has certainly inspired me to try to get invited to QCRYPT next year by republishing my 2006 hit on Optimality of Gaussian Attacks in CVQKD. What do you think, rats? Shall I submit it to PRL? Or should I try Nature Communications this time?

Yours truly,

Schroedinger’s Rat

Monday, 8 July 2013

The PNAS hotel

The Rat, 2013

Hi rats,

This post is about high impact factor journals, i.e., those publications where you have to convince an entity called “editor” that your article is “cool” and will “appeal to a wide audience” before having a chance to get it reviewed by someone who's not an ignorant. Most of you won’t pass this first filter. That is, unless an individual whom I've never seen in any nonlocality workshop claims in Nature News that your result is “the most important general theorem relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics since Bell’s theorem”

Hence I will focus my rant on this aspect, the editor stage, because I find astounding that editors of professional scientific journals regularly reject submissions on completely unscientific grounds. Whenever I get a good original result and am able to summarize it in four pages, I know that I will probably get it published in PRL. I wished I could say that whenever I get an exceptional result it will most likely be published in Science, Nature or Nature Physics. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

What’s wrong with high impact factor journals? Is it true that under their human masks Nature editors are a reptilian species sent to destroy Earthen civilization by featuring articles like this? Desperate for answers, I went to the Bristol University Mensa and asked researchers on this matter. I found that their opinions fall into three categories:

a) The Conformist: “Yes, sure, the system is far from perfect, but that’s all there is. So stop whining and send those families to the reeducation cam- sorry, wrong forum.”

b) The Outraged Conformist: “Those journals are a shame and we should boycott them all. But first let me submit my new paper “If quantum mechanics were more nonlocal, an avian compass would violate the second law of thermodynamics in the Canary Islands””.

c) The Understanding: “You have to put yourself in their shoes… these editors receive a lot of papers every week, they have to come up with a system to release that load. And the simplest way is to reject all papers written by junior scientists. Now I have to leave you, that man with the scars over there says that he wants my “fucking” shirt. Poor soul, he must have suffered so much. I will offer him my money, my house and my first-born baby”.

Between the lines, one can read some skepticism about the transparency of editorial decisions in high impact factor journals. Let us dig into this:

In his book “Reason strangled”, chemist and journalist Carlos Elías argues that Nature’s top-one priority is to maintain its impact factor; that allows the journal to set the prize of the publication. Problem is, Nature’s impact factor is already so high that a lot of effort must go just into not letting it drop. Hence Nature editors have to make sure that each article will be highly cited. Articles signed by famous scientists are read more, and, consequently, have more citations. Likewise with prestigious affiliations, fancy titles, articles already mentioned in the press. Elías writes about Nature, but I guess that his conclusions apply to other high impact factor journals as well.

It follows that the paper “Full algorithmic characterization of LOCC quantum operations”, by John Unknown, from Mac&Cheese Community College, will have a cold reception. On the other hand, the article “Quantum mechanics is extra-spicy”, signed by Stephen Hawking, Edward Witten and David Bowie, and featured on TV by Beakman and the Myth Busters, will make the same Nature editors twist and shout. Don’t forget that we’re speaking of a journal that in 1996 published an article about the analgesic effects of myrrh. Because it was a relevant result in the field? No! Because it was Christmas time!

The need to increase the journal’s impact factor explains many things, but does not answer all my questions. How come that exactly the same document is called “Supplementary Material” in Science, “Supplementary Information” in Nature, “Supplemental Information” in PNAS and “Supplemental Material” in PRL*? Do they want to drive us crazy? Why can’t PNAS editors read a reference where the author’s initials are - sacrilege! - before the family name? Are they aware of the amount of time that it takes to submit a paper to this journal, only to see it rejected the next week? If I conduct the research, write a referee list and prepare the paper in their damned unique format, what do the so-called editors do? I mean, besides checking my affiliation and h-index and replying “we receive more papers than we can publish, so we have to select those that will be of the greatest interest to a wide audience”. Do they understand how that sentence feels like when the next day they publish whatever crap with the words “spooky” and “quantum” in the abstract? Come to think of it, why do high impact factor journals have an impact factor at all? Shouldn’t they be in the same lot as other popular science magazines, like Scientific American, New Scientist and Physical Review A**?

*I know, PRL is not a high impact factor journal. But it’s where most good Physics papers end up after being rejected by the first three, they should make the transition easier!

**OK, here I went too far.


When I was a young postdoc, within two months, two different groups proposed two physical principles to limit quantum nonlocality. One group included important figures in QI who had previously published in Nature. Even unpublished, their work was soon echoed in the press (what? You never heard of information causality? How long did you say you stayed in that coma?). The other group was composed by a relatively unknown postdoc (me) and a second-year PhD student.

My collaborator and I knew that nothing short of building a time machine would have allowed us to pass the editors of a high impact factor journal. However, when we heard that the first group had managed to get their paper accepted in Nature, we thought: “now we have them by the balls”.

On one hand, Nature editors could not claim that our work wasn’t of general interest, because the same considerations would apply to information causality. On the other hand, they couldn’t argue that our work didn’t represent a significant advance, because it advanced the field as much as information causality did. In sum, the two main arguments for rejection in Nature didn’t apply. Cowabunga!

Of course, we were assuming that Nature editors can feel human emotions, like shame. Our article never went to referees. Guess why? Because “it was not of general interest and did not represent a significant advance”. A prior submission to Nature Physics had had exactly the same response.

Outraged, I wrote to Nature’s Editor-in-Chief, explaining my case*. My letter ended with some recommendations for the journal:


I therefore suggest you to change the contents of the Nature webpage concerning how to get published. It will not be so glamorous, but at least it will be honest. It could start by:

1. It is completely admissible to exaggerate one’s work to the point that no future research can compete with your so-claimed results.

2. If you are not a key figure in your field, stop reading. We are currently working on a webpage that can only be accessed by scientific celebrities, but, meanwhile, we would appreciate your cooperation if… wait a moment! Why am I wasting time talking to a Nobody? Leave! Now!

3. Oh, it’s you again! Didn’t I tell you to come back when you are famous? Go away, your anonymity smell is making me dizzy… what? How can you become famous? Err… I don’t know… By publishing in Nature?

4. Even if your work is not good enough for Nature, you can still try with Nature Physics. There, an editor with a PhD in experimental ultraviolet LEDs will review your theoretical paper on Foundational Physics and copy-paste his opinion about it. In order to guarantee a polite response, we have removed the exclamation sign from his keyboard.


And so on. That way, people will not get the wrong impression that Nature is a scientific journal, but the nerdy version of “Hello!”.

I think I have already written enough, and I do not want to waste more of your precious time; you must be very busy eating young researchers. But do not worry, this is not a “see you soon”, it is more a “see you never”.

A rat had been born.

Yours truly,

The Rat