We've all heard something along the lines of how a reviewer critiqued a writer for not writing a completely different article or book, and in a sense that's the substance of one reader's critiques on my article MS. Imagine that I'm writing an article about industrial agriculture and the food chain, á là Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Imagine that, in order to illustrate my points about industrial agriculture and the food chain, I decide to talk about tomatoes as an example: how they are native to a particular climate and soil type; how they are hyper-engineered to grow in other places, and not to be lumpy or mottled, and harvested green in order to be able to ship them to inhospitable climates. I conclude that the engineering of the naturally yummy heirloom tomato into a perfectly round, red, unblemished, and completely tasteless bit of produce shows how industrial agriculture is taking food away from us while it purports to give us more.
Now, imagine that a reader's report comes back, telling me that I've neglected volumes of literature on tomatoes in various global contexts, and that I've only skimmed over the tomato's relation to other plants in the nightshade family, and not even bothered to discuss how some people make tomatoes into spaghetti sauce, rather than eating them sliced on a sandwich -- all of which I'd have more room to do if I just cut out those long-winded sections on industrial agriculture.
Did I fume about this? Hells, yes. Did I uncharitably mutter that the reader was dense for totally missing the point? Well... okay, maybe a bit. But let me tell you what I eventually learned (and this is several weeks after getting the critique): if a reader comes away from my article thinking I didn't adequately discuss tomatoes, it's because that reader honestly thinks that that's what my article is about.
And whose fault is that? Only my own.
So your intrepid Girl-Scholar once again attempts to clarify her point. Wish me luck.