Thursday, May 04, 2006

My first review

Earlier this week I got an email asking me to review a paper. I was a bit surprised because I have not actually had anything published yet myself. (My first paper is in review.) So maybe an author was doing something relevant to my research and suggested me as a reviewer.
I was even more surprised when I saw the name of the journal. Let's call it "Journal of Handicap-Accessible Web Design." But let's say that my work is in the field of the "Journal of Blogging." So there's some distant relationship between the fields of the JoHAWD and JoB, but not a whole lot. Maybe some JoHAWD readers belong to the same professional society that I do. Maybe not.
I looked at the title of the paper. I had to read it three times before I understood it. Then I read the abstract twice just to make sure. The manuscript's subject was very technical and nothing even remotely relevant to my field, much less my research. There's no way that I could provide a good review of this paper.
Then it occurred to me. The first time I went to a professional meeting, I on the third day of the weeklong conference. When I went to pick up my name badge, I was handed one that read "Science Woman" but listed my affiliation as "Government Agency." It turns out that there is another "Science Woman" that belongs to the same society, and that she had arrived earlier and taken my badge. I looked up her talk, decided it wasn't really relevant, and nearly forgot about the incident.
Until 3 years later as I was puzzling over weird review request. The other Science Woman works in Handicap-Accessible Web Design.
My guess is that the authors of the manuscript requested her as a reviewer, and the journal editor didn't know who she was. So they googled our name, got me, and sent off the manuscript. Only, they got the wrong person.
Has this ever happened to anyone else?

6 comments:

Writer Chica said...

That's just crazy! I can just see your baffled face.

Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams. No, it hasn't happened to me, because I have an unusual surname, but I have been mistaken for my more accomplished sister, the Olymic marathon runner.

Should Science Offspring eventuate, give the mistaken identity a thought in the naming process. Especially if SO's surname is common.

turtlebella said...

That is really kind of weird! You'd have thought if they had to google you they would have also noticed that you were in a different field? Unless you don't have a webpage as an academic (we did at my graduate institution but at here at my current one relatively few of the grad students do)... Never happened to me, although there are a couple of eminent types in my narrow field that have the same last name as I do. So I get, are you related to Dr. X? A potential mentor once asked me this and when I replied, "No" she said, "Good. I don't like his statistical methods." !!!

MissPrism said...

Not exactly that, but I have the same name as a very distinguished molecular biologist, which caused confusion at a conference once - when I introduced myself at the reception desk, I received some very suspicious looks along with the plenary speaker's folder intended for Prof. Dame Laetitia Prism, FRS.

B said...

This is partly why I'm keeping my name when I get married, there is alreadys someone w/ my first name in a similiar arena, and if I took my fiance's last name I would match her exactly. Strange how that stuff works.
B

ScienceWoman said...

Liz - Fortunately my husband's name is a bit less common than mine. If we follow the traditional naming conventions, I suspect that Science Offspring will be fine. But I hadn't thought about that.

Turtlebella- I do have a prof. webpage . I am the first ScienceWoman to appear on google. The other ScienceWoman doesn't make the first page. So I suspect that they went to my web page, but I do wonder why they didn't notice I was in the wrong specialty.

MissPrism - I wonder if it is a professional asset or liability to have exactly the same name as an eminent someone in your field. I'd imagine that it could be kind of fun.

b - good forethought. There's so many good reasons for keeping your own name...