I submitted a manuscript for publication in May (it was about DFT analysis of a specific system). The manuscript was rejected in October; one reviewer had made some suggestions, and the other recommended rejection as there is nothing new in the paper. I revised the manuscript according to the first reviewer’s suggestion and submitted the manuscript to another journal.
The second journal rejected my manuscript as one reviewer stated that similar analysis has already been published. I checked the reference introduced by the reviewer, and it is exactly the idea of my work with a slightly different method and different discussions. The manuscript had been submitted for publication in July (two months after my first submission). It is hard to assume it is just a coincidence.
I wrote to the editor of the first journal and asked him if the reviewer who rejected my manuscript is one of the authors of this new paper. He replied that he cannot disclose the name of reviewers under any circumstance due to data-protection laws.
Now my research is useless as I cannot publish it anymore. What can I do?