Reviewer’s conclusion: we should get a man’s name on MS to improve it (male colleagues had already read it) (2/4) pic.twitter.com/fhiyzNG0R8— Fiona Ingleby (@FionaIngleby) April 29, 2015
…and this is a bit hypocritical given the reviewer’s own ideological biases throughout the review, for example: (3/4) pic.twitter.com/aJ8aTIRdYL— Fiona Ingleby (@FionaIngleby) April 29, 2015
The row created quite a media and social media stir, and has caused PLOS ONE to recant and reconsider the paper.
Ingleby and Head said they received the rejection with just the single review. “Not only did the review seem unprofessional and inappropriate, but it didn’t have any constructive or specific criticism to work on,” Ingleby wrote. (The reviewer wrote that the study is “methodologically weak” and “has fundamental flaws and weaknesses that cannot be adequately addressed by mere revision of the manuscript, however extensive,” according to a copy of the review Ingleby provided to ScienceInsider, but Ingleby says these comments are “quite vague” and therefore difficult to address.)I would certainly be curious to see the paper at this point. (You can find Ingleby's research here, and a page describing the University of Sussex's evolutionary genetics of sexual conflict lab here.) The reviewer does seem to bring his own unexamined biases into his review (if you're going to claim she makes weak arguments, at least show some rebutting evidence as to why). If this is truly weak science, it will get shredded upon publication. For my part, I have never claimed that sexism doesn't exist, only that it is more or less a factor depending on the situation and individuals involved. This might be one of those situations.