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I recently submitted a paper to a journal. It came back with a "revise and resubmit" recommendation and two referee reports. Both of them were quite positive. One of them suggested that I remove from the paper a certain topic and publish it separately in order to give it more visibility. The other referee and the editor did not say anything about splitting.

The referee's suggestion seems reasonable, but I am not sure how it should be done technically:

  1. Should I submit the two sub-papers into the "resubmit" form? (but what if the other referee does not agree to the split?)
  2. Does the other paper have to go again through the entire review process, including finding new reviewers?
  3. How much additional work does this split entail for the editorial board, the reviewer and the authors (in addition to the obvious work of writing a new paper)?
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Should I submit the two sub-papers into the "resubmit" form? (but what if the other referee does not agree to the split?)

No

Does the other paper have to go again through the entire review process, including finding new reviewers?

Yes

How much additional work does this split entail for the editorial board, the reviewer and the authors (in addition to the obvious work of writing a new paper)?

As much as any two submitted papers.


Keep in mind: you don't have to follow a reviewers suggestions. Splitting a paper may sound reasonable, but writing the second paper can be a lot more work than you may think - you cannot just copy the first paper's introduction and add different results. Especially when the editor doesn't ask you to do so (or asks you to remove part of your results). Also, the "smaller half" resulting from such a split may not be enough to get published on its own.

The way to go would be to remove part of the results (those that would make up paper#2), as well as the other bits that are focussed on results#2 only (introduction, methods, discussion, references, ...). That revised/shortened paper would be what you submit as revision (paper#1). You can start writing paper#2 (make sure not to copy from paper#1) and submit as a new manuscript.

You could submit paper#2 to the same journal/editor, explain where it came from, and ask to send it to the same reviewers - but there is no guarantee (a) the editor will like what you did and think it's sufficient for a paper in the journal, (b) the editor will send it to the same reviewers, and (c) the reviewers will accept to review it.

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I think you could contact the editor in these circumstances for advice. I would also think about asking another colleague in your field to read your paper and the reviews and give you their candid opinion.

  • The "contact the editor" part of this answer is, in my opinion, the only reasonable way to proceed, unless the editor has already told you how (s)he feels about the suggestion to split the paper. The "ask another colleague" part of the answer can be useful (if you have a suitable colleague), but I think it's much less important than getting the editor's opinion. – Andreas Blass Feb 6 '18 at 16:51

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