You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

In 2012, Rink Hoekstra received two emails on the same day. One was from a journal editor, telling him that a manuscript was being rejected based on the recommendations of two reviewers. The other was from one of those reviewers, complimenting the paper and congratulating him on a job well done. The reviewer, Fiona Fidler, discovered that her review had been altered, and Rink and Fiona teamed out to figure out why. We spoke with Rink in 2018 about what happened, but we held on to the interview in anticipation of the episode being covered by the press. There’s now an article out in Science, by journalist Cathleen O’Grady. In our conversation we talk about what happened, and we broaden out to a discussion of publication ethics. Why would an editor want to change a review without asking the reviewer? How does that damage a system that already has so little accountability? And what can authors or reviewers do when they suspect something is up?


The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 86. Our interview was recorded on October 26, 2018; the introduction was recorded on October 28, 2020.