My scientific paper came back with a rejection. “The style of this piece does not suit an academic thesis. It reads like a popular science publication, ”wrote the still strict No. 2 reviewer. No, that would be something, let’s say a science publication is easily readable. Imagine what is wrong then. Soon people will be reading these articles for fun. And why should reviews of scientific manuscripts interfere with the author’s style at all? Shouldn’t they just watch the content?
It seems some academics find it hard to believe that a well-written text can be just as solid in content as a difficult article. Flemish writer Bart Van Loo recently had trouble with specialist historians who read his book The Burgundians degraded. In a flamboyant elements He argues, “Just because you season your story with salient detail and humor, or because you focus on narrative schwung, doesn’t mean the core of your content is affected. This means that more readers are accessing this content.
Now, I hadn’t even used humor or narrative panache in my science article, because I wanted it to be published. Nonetheless, I considered sending this quote to reviewer number two in a sarcastic email. I didn’t, because I wanted this article published after all.
This week I read a great way to deal with that kind of frustration on the Blog by author Rob van Essen. He wrote: “In an earlier version of this article, some reviews were sarcastic and sometimes downright hurtful. I removed all these fragments. I kept them because you never know; they are hung inside the door of the kitchen cabinet where we keep the glasses which can be beaten.
In this blog, Van Essen is angry with critics who compare the novels to Netflix and thus imply that these novels are not really literary. For example, Onno Blom recently wrote in the Volkskrant: “ In his second robust novel I am not here Lize Spit uses all the tricks of a Netflix series worthy of a frenzy. Small detail: Van Essen and Spit have a relationship, they share this kitchen cabinet full of sniffles with the critics.
But Van Essen also saw the comparison in reviews of another novel and, by chance, I heard it in my book club last week. The comparison has the same contempt for accessibility that occurs in science. Imagine that readers want to read a book excessively, to be drawn into it as in an exciting series. Soon people will be reading these books for fun. Further: why shouldn’t a book be both fascinating and literary?
Now, I fantasize about the next step: science articles that read like a Netflix series. But I’m not going to write them because I have to get my articles to rank second.