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Physiologia Plantarum rejection letter

Why PPL rejected our paper 
(August 2006)


During December 2003 Francesco Grassi, Claudio Cocheo and Paolo Russo submitted the manuscript "Balls Of Light: The Questionable Science of Crop Circles" to Physiologia Plantarum Journal. During February 2004 Grassi, Cocheo and Russo received a rejection letter from PPL, so they submitted later the manuscript to Journal of Scientific Exploration. JSE accepted the manuscript and submitted it to referees before its publishing.

Since meantime many rumours spread over the internet about the actual reason for PPL rejection, Grassi, Cocheo and Russo decided (August 2006) to ask PPL the permission to publish the actual rejection letter.
We want to thank Physiologia Plantarum Managing Editor for the permission grant.

Have a good reading:


Email Sent: monday 23 february 2004 11.50

Subject: Manuscript PPL-2003-00411 Decision

Editorial decision: Reject without review


Dear Dr. Francesco Grassi, 

I have read your paper 'Balls of light: the questionable science of crop-circles formations' (PPL-2003-00411) submitted to Physiologia Plantarum. I have gone back and read these 2 previous papers and the comments on them and looked at their citation histories. The 1994 Levengood paper was self-cited in the follow up paper in 1999, which in turn was only ever cited in Haselhoff's and Deardoff's comments in 2001. 

I have read your letter and your manuscirpt several times. While you have been more polite than I would be, in describing this as "questionable science", I think we agree that this topic is more suited to the popular press than to a scientific forum. The original papers were submitted to the journal and were subjected to the normal peer-review and were, regrettably in my view, recommended for publication and therefore published. Your point is that, given that this journal has published in the past papers that were questionable, in your view and mine, then this journal is therefore the best place to continue this discussion. I understand your point of view and I respect your wish to set the record straight, as you see it, but I must disagree. 

The original papers by Levengood were published, and comments/criticisms of these were also subsequently published (Haselhoff 111(1) & Deardorf 111(1)) - inadequate though you may feel these were. After serious consideration I believe that to "continue this discussion", when clearly from the citation record there is not a scientific discussion in progress, only gives gives it substance and credibility it does not merit. I can therefore not accept your manuscript for publication in our journal. 

I am sorry to disappoint you but I wish you every success in publishing your paper in a more appropriate forum. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr. Vaughan Hurry

Subject Editor
Physiologia Plantarum


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