Update: I've been away for the past couple of days, but I have recompiled the list with the fantastic comments that have been shared (I have given credit to the appropriate person as being the source but have interpreted their comments through my own crankiness!)
I've been cranky and unhappy this week and felt like I needed a little cathartic humor (apparently delving into what is wrong with math scores and whinging about my university really haven't been doing it for me). So I have started a top 10 list, but thought this might be more fun as a communal effort. Please share your top reviewer pet peeves to finish the list below. Here are my favorites.
10. Makes grandiose statements about how the research has already been done, sometimes providing strings of big name scientists but never actually providing citations. After reading all the papers by said big names you never do find any evidence that anyone, living or dead, has published a paper even remotely similar....ever.
9. A passage of the following spirit in a review has left you thinking you might actually be insane: "The authors clearly do not understand concept X, as evidenced by a series of statements I am about to make that actually have nothing to do with concept X but I will say authoritatively as if I actually understand concept X, which by definition means that the authors do not understand concept X."
8. Refers to unpublished papers as evidence that you have not adequately read the literature making you realize that you apparently failed your graduate class in clairvoyance.
7. (Isis) Suggests a really huge and elaborate addition to your experiment that not only would end up being a completely new paper but you both know there is no way in hell you'd actually conduct that experiment anyway!
6. (anon) When the reviewer uses "conventional wisdom" as evidence against you, when there has never been a paper showing that the conventional wisdom is actually true.
- note from River Tam to reviewers who do this: I HATE that shit. Legend, lore, and mythology is NOT science and often what we assume to be true actually is NOT! So, stop giving legitimate science the kiss of death just because you think you've run the experiment in your head.
5. (Anon and DamnGoodTechnician) If a reviewer has told you that you need to run additional experiments/analyses to bolster your claims and those experiments/analyses are not only in the paper already but constitute 3 out of your 5 figures!
4. (DamnedGoodTechnician) The reviewer claims that he has already proven your findings wrong in print but the paper is only vaguely related to your paper at all and could be interpreted as actually supporting your findings
- I would also like to add the variant where the reviewer's papers is totally a piece of flawed and steaming crap which you ignored because it was so truely awful that you were actually doing the reviewer a favor by ignoring its existence.
3. (Candid Engineer) When the reviewer's summary of your paper is so totally different from what you actually did that you have to wonder if the reviewer a) sent the wrong review to the editor or b) you should be contacting the editor to have medical help sent said reviewer because you are pretty sure they must have had a stroke.
Still room!!! Anyone have 1 or 2 last doozies?