Try to use more basic statistical calculations, because I don’t understand

“To be honest I did not understand your finding as given in page x, Line xx, xx,xx. I prefer to see raw data instead of detailed calculation results. Try to use more basic statistical calculations.”

[We presented adjusted % changes in performance responses to 2 training protocols, to remove the effect of a co-variable (baseline training status). Conclusion: make sure your analyses are simple enough for reviewer to understand what they are meant to judge…but hold on.., what about in-depth analysis? Na… too complex for reviewer = not worth publishing!?]

 J Sport Sci & Med 25/1/14


Nothing replace Blog-evidence based conclusions

[first time I have an Editor discussing the relevance of a paper using general press/media or blog contents – this is very convincing, right?]

“The authors’ statement that HR cannot be used for fatigue monitoring and tracking is not correct. [I never said that btw, rather the converse, but my point was that it depends on how you measure HRV] In contrast, HR has long been used in practice to measure and evaluate fatigue, which has been well supported by both research and practice. As an example, I have enclosed a few links on HR and fatigue:

Frontiers in Physiology (06/02/2014) – paper finally accepted in Frontiers, but what a fight !

Rev#1: write more in the active voice. Rev#2: write in the 3rd person

[posted by Matt Weston, paper just rejected from MSSE]

General. Reviewer 1 – you need to write more in the active voice. Reviewer 2 – write in the third person.

Statistical review. Our study was a clustered before and after controlled study. ANCOVA was used with the change as the dependent variable and baseline scores as the covariate. Furthermore, individual responses were quantified as a SD. Selection of reviewer comments: Why log transform if the data are normally distributed? Evaluate the effects on the difference between groups. What is the relevance of adjusted values? Why report individual responses to an intervention. I expected more of a review from this journal.

[agree, Matt. You cannot completely blame the bad reviewers, they probably did their best^^. But for such a journal, it is the editor that allowed this review to be sent to you who is to blame…]

That was our last submission to Scan JSMM

Another rejection from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in my Inbox. I am not worried about the rejection itself, but once more time, about the very poor comments from the Editor, Stephen Harridge. Paper not even sent for review.

Here are the comments from the Section Editor [with my responses in Italics]

In this study the authors claim that training loads at certain intensities modified resting heart rate variability (HRV).

There are several studies on this issue: [Actually, there is NO study in elite athletes, and NO study on proper training load over a training program (not just a single exercise)]

and so far it seems that HRV assessment with 5-6 min recordings is rather imprecise and highly variable. A more extended recording (overnight for example) will represent much better HRV [1) this possible greater variability has still to be shown, and 2) considering the sleep stage-dependency of HRV and the direct effect on HRV of both sleep quality and physical activity the day before, I believe that standardized resting (morning) measures – less affected by prior activity the day before – will be less variables. In short, even he could be right, the editor statement is NOT based on scientific evidences.]

Unfortunately, no effort has been made to determine with other methods if parasympathetic/sympathetic balance was really modified. [Do you have many alternative methods to use on elite athletes (Olympic champions)?]

There was no control group: [fine but: 1) we used is a within-subjects modelling approach, so controls are not required. 2) how do you built a control group to compare against Elite athletes?]

The discussion is too speculative and the conclusions as well.” [NO comments]

At the bottom of the letter, you can read:

“Thank you for considering the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports for the publication of your research. I hope the outcome of this specific submission will not discourage you from submitting other papers to the journal in the future.

Yours sincerely, Stephen Harridge, Editor-in-Chief. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports”

[Stephen, we have a problem. And this is not new (see previous stories, where positive reviewers’ comments were disregarded and where we were criticized for not blinding a cold bath). Stephen, you can now be sure that you managed to discourage us from submitting other papers to the journal in the future.]


This data set is not suited to this particular journal.

I am not overly convinced that this data set is suited to this particular journal. It is my opinion that due to the non-invasive approach to data collection and the findings of the paper, the data would be best suited to a main stream Sport and Exercise Science Journal.

[We report cardio-respiratory, NIRS, blood lactate and skin temp response to HIT. How many JAP paper published with the same materials in the last years? I stopped counting]

Am Journal of Physiology (10/02/2013)

Paper still under review somewhere else

If anyone knows how to blind a cold bath, let me know, please

[The study is about assessing the effect of CWI on performance recovery. See below probably one of the best comment I ever received, straight from the editor in chief]

A placebo effect cannot be rule out. The control group should have been immersed in water at 25-27 ºC. [If anyone knows how to blind a cold bath, let me know, please]

The data should have been also analyzed with ANOVAS for repeated measures had the requirement been accomplished.

Scand J Med Sci Sports (21/02/2012)

Final paper published:

We know a lot about hypoxic training and we know it creates more hypoxia.

This paper is poorly written and confusing.  We know a lot about hypoxic training and it is effective [really?]. So it is unclear what you are saying.  We know it creates more hypoxia.  You need a considerable amount of clarity and focus in the write up as it is just now a whole lot of data with no real form or clarity and you need to get help with your English and writing clarity [we had a few people with English as first language involved in the writing]. 

[Below is the typical comments that I recieved seveal times from JSCR. Looks like very specific to my paper !? I would be curious to see how many got these as well]

1.    The introduction needs to better develop the context for this study within the literature and then focuses on what the question is and what the hypothesis is to be developed. At present you have not put it in the literature base for such training.  Please look at the literature more carefully, this paper needs to be more insightful as to what the data tell us with hypoxic training.  Simplicity, condensation and clarity need to be improved.

2.    The approach to the problem needs to explain how this design will be able to test the hypotheses and what is the rationale for the variables used in the study? 

3.    The methods need to be very clear for replication and this includes the background of the subjects and their training state coming into the study. What about controls for hydration status, sleep, time of day for testing which needs to be stipulated and arousal levels during testing. Each of these variables need to be addressed in the paper.

4.    The statistical analyses must be clear to the reader as it relates to the hypothesis to be tested and the alpha level is typically ? 0.05.  Also reliability (ICCRs) and effect sizes are important understand as well as your statistical power.

5.    The results must be clear and all figures and tables able to stand on their own with their figure or table legends. 

6.    The discussion is vital to bring home the connection between the introduction and the discussion leading to the practical application section.

7.    The Practical Applications section is for the end user or coach and let the call more study or technical aspects to the discussion.  Again the context of the findings relative to the fitness levels of the athletes in particular strength of the associated tested musculature needs to be carefully presented.

8.    Make sure you have carefully formatted the paper for the journal and read the author guidelines as this slows things up in the redactory from the subheadings to the format of the paper, see writing tips.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (01/11/2011)

Paper finally published:

….and it is just difficult to understand

The paper is very hard to follow and it is just difficult to understand and this is clarity may be due to a language barrier [We had 2 Aussies who corrected the English for me]. Also the importance of it as it relates to practicality is also not clear and other tests are also available for such field testing, why do we need to add another. Therefore the context of the finding and its practicality remains unsubstantiated.


and it is just difficult to understand

Journal of Strength and conditioning research (11/10/2010)

Paper published later here: