“This is brilliant, terrific work” the senior scholar began. In my head: Really? I thought it was a bit of a mess. We were all at a work-in-progress seminar, discussing an article draft by a colleague.
“But,” the senior scholar, who is very respected and does awesome work, continued, “really the conclusion should be the introduction, and although you say the thesis is ‘these sources have a lot to offer’ it would be better to have a thesis about the actual history rather than how we write it, and reverse the order of these other two sections, and it’s not really clear why you have a whole section on a book that isn’t really the best framework for your ideas anyhow.”
So, the senior scholar thought it was a bit of a mess too.
I would just like to note that it would never cross my mind to apply the words “brilliant, terrific work” to a paper that needed significant reorganization.
Depending upon one’s opinion of me, this is either because I place a premium on effective communication, or because I have an authoritarian fascist streak.