I am a 3rd-timer postdoc, and I often run into this issue. Over my career I have greatly benefitted personally of responsible peer review and participating in the elaboration of 'Response to Reviews'. Moreover I am very wary of publishing ethics, and open discussion of papers after publication.

This is often what happens: the 1st author of a paper where I am a co-author assigns a PI as last corresponding author. This PI is usually older and actually less invested in the project, but wishes to handle the submission. This person will however not share any correspondence with editors or submission files with authors other than the first (and I suspect even then not in full). I am thus left in the dark about discussions over papers where quite often I made a major part of the writing and experiments, and the only specialist about core topics being discussed.

I have tried asking for the details of peer review and was ignored, every time this happened. On a most recent case I received editorial notification of submission of same paper from two different journals within the time span of just 5 days, and now I fear somebody pulled a duplicate submission! This kind of attitude has made me reluctant of handing the position as corresponding authors to others, particularly to PIs, which is politically not good.

Thus I ask: How do others deal with such a situation?

UPDATE 1 (24.01.2018): I have just sent an email to the PI politely asking again for the peer reviews stating I will follow up with the journals if there is no reply.

UPDATE 2 (25.01.2018): First author responded informally providing the dates of all submission and general reasons for two rejections. The details didn't really add up, but given a casual tone perhaps it wasn't precise (e.g. I suspect this person is not aware of the difference of editor x reviewer). I still asked again for the Reviewers reports, and was left with the impression the 1st author did not (care to) see them either. She said she'll ask the PI.

In case I get no response I am not sure on how to proceed (e.g. if I want to see peer review from a previous journal).

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    "Is this widespread?" Hopefully not, it never occured to me, and I'd probably state very clearly how submissions should be handled. I'd stop collaborating if the problem persists. Jan 23, 2018 at 6:13
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    @Scientist Were those three different groups at the same department or institute? I observed one department where this is common, but not in other places. For what it's worth, after this happened repeatedly with the same PI I not only stopped collaborating, but also informed the editor that manuscripts had been submitted without my (co-author) approval (amongst other problems). The editor too found the PI's behavior unacceptable.
    – Mark
    Jan 23, 2018 at 17:43
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    With respect to the duplicate submission issue, while that's certainly possible, some journals engage in an "editorial review" process where the editor reads the paper and immediately rejects it based on some criteria (quality, relevance etc.) without ever sending it out for a full review. I don't know if this practice is common in your field but that might explain it.
    – TPM
    Jan 24, 2018 at 4:28
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    @silvado I am editing out then my more personal doubts and leaving just the question on how to deal with such situations.
    – Scientist
    Jan 24, 2018 at 6:50
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    Based on this experience, have you tried having a conversation about submission process before beginning the collaboration? Jan 24, 2018 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


I have decided to post my final update on this as answer to anyone arriving here in the same situation.

The following line of response worked: I have written a formal email (in English, which is not our language of choice for communication) to the first author and PI asking again for the results of previous submissions and to be duly warned of future submissions. I implied (by stating I could just contact the journals but 'felt that was the role of the corresponding author') I'd contact journal editors if ignored for more than 5 days.

Within less than 12h the first author responded informally describing generally what had come out of previous submissions. I still asked (informally) for the peer reviews and she said she had to ask the corresponding author for it (PI, last author). By that I understood this 1st author had also not seen the result of peer review, and told her this was not fair on her as well.

Finally after 5 days the PI contacted me formally, and in English (unexpected because it is not easy for him to write in English) excusing for the time taken, informing any future submissions would be correctly reported, and attaching the results of previous peer reviews. I am formally thanking him for the attention given.

I cannot say how the PI feels about this (I now live on the other side of the planet) nor whether there will be further collaborations. Whatever the reasons, his response was appropriate, thus I am recommending this line of action. On a personal note, I would not have escalated this to the journal editors unless I was sure there was something else out of place.

Thanks to all for the suggestions given.

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