Well, it worked. Science officially accepted “A generalization of Hamilton’s rule for the evolution of microbial cooperation” by jeff smith, J. David Van Dyken, and Peter Zee. First and senior author on a paper in one of the most prominent journals in all of science… You can’t see it, but I’m doing a little victory dance right now. It’s especially sweet because I really think this paper deserves a high profile — it’s not just spin and luck.
But we did have decent luck with reviewers. Their questions, comments, and suggestions helped improve the paper, even if we didn’t always agree with them. Two of the three were totally on board with what we were trying to do and how we were doing it. The third mainly took issue with some of our stronger statements knocking Hamilton’s rule. Worse would’ve been a reviewer antagonistic to our research program or a reviewer that just didn’t get the point, for whatever reason. In the end, we clarified the problems we had with Hamilton’s rule, toned down our rhetoric somewhat, and that was enough. I get the impression that many papers in these journals go through a similar cycle — they start out boldly stated to make it to full review (“An accurate replacement for…”), then get toned down on revision (“A generalization of…”).