Friday, April 13, 2012


date: Wed, 2 May 2007 11:08:49 -0400
from: John Milliman <>
subject: Re: ms 1141378
to: "Jesse Smith" <>

Thanks, Jesse, for your follow-up note. You should have by now exorcized any guilt
that you may have had concerning the long review. And we will take you up on your kind
offer of featuring the paper as Editors' Choice when the paper is published. We are just
in the initial stages of revision, although, in reality, not much revision is needed. GRL
will probably be our choice.

I did want to let you know - as much for my peace of mind as for your information -
that when reading the Milly et al. paper last night (a main stumbling block for the two
negative reviewers), I did remember the paper in late 2005. The reason we did not cite it
is for the very reason that we stated in our introduction: the GRDC "1900-70 database",
which they used, contains only 38 rivers (if one deletes multiple entries and tributaries),
only 3 from Asia, 1 from Africa, and none from South America. The database is clearly
biased towards North America and northern Europe, thus precluding any global view.

As far as I can tell, Milly et al. "modeled many of their river discharges,
apparently not taking into account (at least they do not cite any relevant references) such
climatic variables as PDO or AMO. Their resulting maps therefore mix observations and
modeling results; a comparison of modeled vs gauged data (their Fig. 2c), however, suggests
an R^2 of ~0.1. I now remember - and you can understand - why we did not use or cite this

Glad Science didn't publish Milly et al., but I sure wish that your reviewers would
have read it more carefully before judging our paper.



Dear John,
The letter you received that contained the decision and the reviews was
a form letter, but the one to which you responded was not: I felt that
you needed, and deserved, a more personal response, particularly in
light of the long time it took to complete the review process. I do
hope that you will take us up on the offer to feature the paper as an
Editors' Choice in Science when it is published, since we do believe
your paper is a good one. Finally, the size issue is a real factor in
many of our decisions, and one which has definite impacts on
manuscripts, sometimes. It is simply an unavoidable (and at times
unfortunate) consequence of our format.
Dr. Jesse Smith
Senior Editor
1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 326-6556
(202) 408-1256 (FAX)
>>> John Milliman <> 05/01 2:29 PM >>>
I must admit, Jesse, that I was disappointed but not
surprised with your decision. Positive actions are always quicker -
and easier - to make. Reviewer #2 must have felt some time-pressure,
because his review clearly shows that he did not read the paper
carefully. Still, you were left with what you had to work with: and
clearly we missed the Milly et al. paper (2005)....
Part of the problem - and one that I am sure is not new to
you - is that in order to keep to size-restrictions by Science, we
had to "gloss" over some parts that needed to be addressed in more
Without your kind letter (below) - which does not even look
like a form letter - I would feel a lot more irked by the slowness of
the review (76 days!). In your shoes, however, I probably also would
have rejected the paper. But I also strongly feel that in the long
run Science will have missed out on a good paper (which, I suspect
you often do - for similar reasons to mine).
>Content-Type: text/html
>Content-Description: HTML
>Dear John,
>You have by now received the official notice of our decision about
>your submission "Climatic and Anthropogenic Factors Affecting River
>Discharge To The Global Ocean, 1951-2000", and I am sorry that it
>could not have been different. I also want to apologize again for

>the length of time it took to complete the evaluation of the paper,
>but the combination of slow, late referees, my travel schedule, our
>general overload of manuscripts, and (though least important in
>terms of time) the difficulty which I sometimes have rejecting a
>paper that I appeals to me personally, all contributed to the
>slowing of the review process. Unfortunately, every day we must
>reject publishable research because of stringent space requirements
>and the need to keep the journal to a manageable size: currently we
>are able to publish less than 6% of what is submitted here.
>I wish you the best of luck, and hope to see your manuscript in print
>Dr. Jesse Smith
>Senior Editor
>1200 New York Avenue, NW
>Washington, DC 20005
>(202) 326-6556
>(202) 408-1256 (FAX)
>>>> John Milliman <> 4/30/2007 7:48:04 AM >>>
>Dear Jesse:
> Today marks the 75th day since I submitted our paper,
>"Climatic and Anthropogenic Factors Affecting River Discharge To The
>Global Ocean, 1951-2000", to Science, and while platinum
>anniversaries are generally to be lauded, in this case I have only
>increasing concern.
> If all the reviews, which as I understand from your last
>e-mail, were received before you left for EGU, had been positive or
>negative, I presume you would have made your decision by now; which
>would mean that the reviews are mixed. If so, I suspect that some
>of the reviews may have questioned our delineation of or explanation
>of "excess" rivers.
> As we said in our submission letter, " We anticipate that
>some reviewers could question our lack of a more concrete
>explanation of excess rivers..." Three of the 9 outsider reviews
>that we obtained prior to submission (and since) submission, raised
>this problem, but could offer any other explanation. In the
>interim, we have come up with several other talking points that
>strengthen our explanation.
> Without seeing the reviews, of course, I can only surmise as
>to why you have delayed a decision on our paper. But I hope -
>particularly given the very long time that this review has taken -
>that we could have an opportunity to discuss this further with you
>before you reach a final (which, as I understand, usually it is a
>"really final") decision.
> Sincerely,
> John
>>Dear John,
>>Thank you for your email, and I apologize for how long the review
>>process is taking. Two of the referees were very slow, and all the
>>reviews came back only just before I left town for EGU. I will be
>>to go over them when I get back to the office next week, and will be
>>touch as soon as I can after that.
>>Best regards,
>>Dr. Jesse Smith
>>Senior Editor
>>1200 New York Avenue, NW
>>Washington, DC 20005
>>(202) 326-6556
>>(202) 408-1256 (FAX)

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