The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Dear Professor Rathbun….

July 3, 2011

Friends, Unfortunately I recently received this rejection letter from Political Science Job Rumors for my recent post, Stuff Political Scientists Like #5. Apparently they do not actually like this. I thought I would share it with you.


Dear Professor Rathbun,

We are writing to inform you that unfortunately we cannot recommend your recent submission on the Duck of Minerva, “Stuff Political Scientists Like #5: a Large-N, for cross-listing on our website. While some of the reviewers found positive things to say about the piece, the overwhelmingly negative nature of the other reviews means that we cannot accept it. As you know, Political Science Job Rumors receives hundred of submissions every day and can only publish the very best 99%. We have a rigorous blind review process in which not only you, but also we, have no earthly idea who the reviewers are. We find this to be the best way to ensure the highest standards of academic discourse and debate are met. This article clearly does not meet the bar of political science satire set by…. well, we can’t think of anyone, but you still suck. We are the TMZ of the discipline, and we take that role very, very seriously.

A number of our reviewers found merit in the post. One anonymous reviewer wrote, “it’s damn good satire.” “Agreed! I think it’s hilarious!” wrote another. However, others wrote that your piece was “cringeworthy,” “not good satire,” and”pathetic trash.” The reviewers engaged in a vigorous and spirited back and forth attempting to convince each other of the humor in your piece or its lack thereof on the basis of carefully considered arguments about what constitutes a good joke. After careful deliberation we are more inclined to agree with your detractors.

If you should choose to revise this piece for another website, we suggest that you take some of these criticisms to heart, particularly to first “have some fun with real girls.” You should also stop being such a hack. One of our reviewers dislikes your use of “observational humor.” Please see the work of Bania, Kenny (1997) for insights.

However, the editors of PSJR would like to give you some professional advice. It is clear from your post that you have aspirations to do this professionally, but we could caution you against this. Your work cannot compare to other PSJR classics such as “f%k your butt” and “OP is a racist.” We believe you should think twice about posting any free satire that no one is forced to read or laugh at in a vain effort to make anyone smile. Our advice would be to return to your original field of the partisan politics of foreign policy decision-making. You seem to have found a nice little niche there where you do not bother anyone.

We wish you the best of luck in your future comedic endeavors and please consider us as an outlet for your future work.


PoliSci Guy

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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.