I am rather new to the academic so I am bit insecure about the whole process. I have a small question regarding the publication process.

Context: Recently I submitted a paper to a physics journal. Two referees were consulted by the editor and recently we received their comments. While one referee recommended publication after a small remark was answered the other referee recommended against the publication. He did not criticize the validity of our work and only said that our manuscript did not add any new physics to the literature. In our rebuttal letter we showed that in fact our approach is very different from the literature (one of the motivation to do the study) and we come to different and new conclusions compared to the present literature.

Question: Recently we resubmitted our manuscript together with our rebuttal to the comments. I saw that our manuscript was sent to one referee. So my question is: what is the workflow of the editor in such a case? Did he sent the manuscript back to the referee who was against the publication or did he consult a new third referee? How is such a case handled by the editor?

Thank you very much

A concerned newbie to the field.


closed as off-topic by Richard Erickson, user68958, Scientist, Buzz, user3209815 Sep 27 '18 at 7:03

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You can't know. Having been an editor for the past decade, I'm pretty sure I've done all of the following three options:

  • I disagreed with the reviewer who said that there is nothing new in the paper and ignored that person in the second round of reviews.
  • I agreed with the reviewer who said that there is nothing new in the paper, felt that the comments by the other reviewer had been addressed, and didn't send the paper to that other reviewer again because it would just be a waste of their time.
  • I couldn't figure out who is right and sent it to a third reviewer to get a tie breaker and a second (actually third) opinion.

Point being: There's no way you can know. Have patience with the process and see what happens.

  • Wouldn't that be a fourth opinion? – Azor Ahai Sep 27 '18 at 0:18

There's a very very good chance the single invited referee is the one who said your work had no novelty. That's because the other referee has already recommended acceptance for the work. Unless you revised your work such that it's not acceptable anymore (did you?), there's no point sending the paper back to that referee.

Inviting a third referee at this point would be rather premature in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, it can happen e.g. if the second referee says he's too busy to look at the manuscript again, but it wouldn't be the typical next step. It's only if the second referee still says it's not acceptable that the editor might invite a third opinion as a "tiebreaker".

  • Hi, thanks for the answer. In our revised manuscript we answered some minor remarks of both referees. We also added a discussion regarding the novelty of our work so we did not have to change much in the revised manuscript. Let's hope for good news! Thanks again! – Feynman008 Sep 26 '18 at 14:43

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