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A couple of months back, I reviewed a manuscript and recommended a Major Revision. Ten days ago, I received the revision for review, with a note from the editor asking me to expedite, since the review process had already taken a while (not due to me).

However, from both the initial decision letter by the editor and the authors' response, I see that my initial review did not reach the authors (I checked: my review is in the system). The other review, which did reach them, mostly raised points orthogonal to mine, so if I were to review the revision again, I would likely reiterate my original points.

I immediately notified the editor and expressed that I would be happy to re-review, but would appreciate a confirmation that this review would then actually reach the authors. No response. A week later, I wrote again. No response. That was three days ago.

To be honest, I am a little miffed. Not so much that my initial review, which I did spend a considerable amount of time on, was not forwarded - stuff happens. More that I am not getting a response to what to me appears a straightforward question. After having been asked specifically to move quickly on this.

At the moment, I am vacillating between either doing the review ASAP or waiting for any kind of response from the editor first, but this second option seems passive-aggressive to me. Additional info: I know the editor, we meet regularly at conferences. I know that since he has been appointed dean, he is drowning in work.


  • Has this happened to anyone else? How did you react?
  • Am I overreacting? Should I just review and stop whining?
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Dumb question, perhaps, but can't you just call the editorial office? – Faheem Mitha Apr 3 '14 at 8:12
I don't have any phone contact info for the editorial staff, although you are right that I could try to reach the editor himself... – Stephan Kolassa Apr 3 '14 at 8:17
"The authors have not addressed any of the concerns in my earlier review (attached for reference). Therefore, I cannot recommend acceptance at this time." – JeffE Apr 3 '14 at 10:40
The combined ignorance of your revision points and the request for 'expedite' review smell like sloppy editorial process to me. What is your opinion of the journal? If I were you I wouldn't do more work on this submission before it's sorted out. Lack of organization on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours. – Cape Code Apr 3 '14 at 11:50
@thePhDstudent: Do keep in mind that ultimately it's the editor, not the reviewer, who makes the decision about whether the paper is ready to publish or needs more revision. If the editor doesn't agree with the reviewer's comments, she doesn't have to require the authors to address them. But it is strange in that case to keep asking the same reviewer's opinion. – Nate Eldredge Apr 3 '14 at 19:28
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I cannot say whether the situation is due to sloppiness or due to some technical issue but it seems odd and something that should not happen. I gather that you were in an electronic review system of some sort and then the review should automatically be forwarded. In a journal not working with an electronic system, something like this is more likely to occur but should be a one off mistake in any case. Problems like these, if they recur regularly, will likely sink the journal reputation in the end. you probably have some sense of the standings of the journal.

The lack of response may not mean much and I would not over-interpret it. It is of course not a positive reflection of the journal.

Anyway, I would recommend you to basically re-use your earlier review. Look through it after reading the paper and authors comments to see if anything can be removed. If you catch anything new that needs corrections, of course, add it. You have done the work once and unless the paper is completely rewritten with significant changes to discussion and conclusions, your comments still stand. You can only reiterate your verdict of Major Revisions, which should lead to a third round. I think, under the circumstances that would b fair, unless the authors fully comply with your suggestions, in which case the editors can use his/her discretion (depending on a second reviewers response of course).

So bottom line: your initial review needs to reach the authors but with corrections for whatever has been changed. Unless you receive some explanation for what has happened from the editor, you have to draw your own conclusions about the quality of the journal and particularly the editorship. Try to form a well-founded opinion, whether you think the journal is worth your attention in the future. One mistake is reason for caution, but not reason for judging.

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I had this happen as a reviewer at a journal with a 3+ month review cycle. The journal BCCs the reviewers on the decision letter so I knew my review was sent. I also knew my review was sent as a PDF attachment and the other review and the AE comments were sent as plain text. The authors wrote a point by point rebuttal letter to the AE and reviewer, but didn't acknowledge my review, so I expected they missed my review.

I emailed the AE within a few days of accepting the rereview that the authors seemed to have either missed my review or ignored it (including both typos and major concerns). The AE responded immediately (with 48 hours) saying to just review what I had. So I sent a review back that said "The authors are either unable or unwilling to address my major concerns and therefore I recommend rejection". After that review cycle, I received a 3rd version, with a rebuttal letter that apologised for missing my earlier review.

I would not whine, but nor would I spend any time rereviewing. Just say that your concerns are not addressed.

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