On writing in a second language and unpleasant reviews

CHI reviews were out last week and, as usual, they were the topic of extended dicussion until rebuttals were submitted. My reviews were quite split, and I had the bitter feeling I had submitted my article to the wrong sub-committe. Actually I almost felt stupid about it, stupid for spending a lot of effort on a piece of work and then giving it to people who obviously work with different topics – yes, always check out the names on the list, even if that commiittee has alwys been your confort zone. Writing the rebuttal was good to answer to what I felt were misunderstandings of my work and of reflective essays more in general. But it isn’t those misunderstandings I’m still annoyed about, not at all. It is R2’s tone (for real this time) that still bugs me. The review was really unpleasant in every single point raised, and it culminated with something that read like: “in fact one of the major weaknesses of this paper is the language and the many errors and typos”. This point was brought up, almost verbatim, by the AC. Now, I know my English is not perfect, but I also know it’s not broken and I’m sure it has never been a MAIN weakness of my writing. So in a growing, international, scientific community that only speaks English, why can’t we find a nice way to say that a certain paper needs (careful) proofreading? Why aren’t ACs more sensitive towards these issues?  Can these issues be pointed out in a rebuttal without compromising your work, once and for all? Why aren’t expert and novice external reviewers asked to be kind with their collegagues?

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