I submitted my paper in IEEE Transcations of XXX and got a rejection. But the comments were really helpful and has helped me a lot in improving the paper. But, unfortunately, I cannot resubmit that paper to this same journal again and now I am looking for another journal.

I am writing a proper response again every comment and thinking to submit the response letter as part of the submission to the new journal. The basic idea is to let the reviewers know that this paper has been reviewed (by reviewers of another journal) and improvements has been made. Will it somehow improve the chances of acceptance. (as I am in the final stages of my PhD now)

What does the community say?

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    Agree with the answers below. If you have done a good job, then reviewers shouldn't ask those same questions again. – Prof. Santa Claus Oct 17 at 4:20
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    "I am writing a proper response again every comment and thinking to submit the response letter as part of the submission to the new journal." Your paper should stand on its own, without separate explanatory comments. – Szabolcs Oct 17 at 8:46
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    Presumably you "cannot resubmit...to this same journal again," because of the journal's policy. Maybe mention that, since it isn't generally true. – user2768 Oct 17 at 9:24
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    I am not sure if it is the journal's policy or not. But the editor has specifically told this. My guess is that this is the journal's policy. – Sjaffry Oct 17 at 10:17
up vote 43 down vote accepted

I wouldn't do that, actually. Use the comments of the reviewers of the first journal to improve the paper as usual. Simply submit the revised paper to the other journal.

It is actually better that they look at it with a fresh viewpoint, rather than having their view possibly clouded by the opinions of others. Let your paper stand on its own.

You will get additional comments, of course. Hopefully they will also help you improve it further.

Don't do this. What'd you actually highlight would be:

  • Your paper has been rejected by another journal before (not a good sign; think of it as "if we publish it now, we're actually publishing another journal's rejects, and we're supposed to be a good journal!!")
  • You're not acting professionally. It seems like you've simply taken your submission to another journal and submitted it to ours, without having edited it to fit our requirements. If e.g. your cover letter also says "to the editor of journal A" and we're not journal A, your submission would be in trouble.
  • We can't use the original journal's reviewer comments & your responses. We don't know who the reviewers are. We can't tell if the reports are legitimate. We can't see if confidential comments were submitted.

Let your paper stand on itself, and don't send additional package with it.

Keep this very clearly in mind: The referee reports from your initial submission should be considered, by default, as confidential communications between you and the initial journal. You cannot send them to the new journal without explicit written authorization from the editor of the initial journal.

(This isn't quite a hard-and-fast, always-the-case standing imperative, but you should think very carefully about how and why you break the confidentiality of referee reports, and you should read carefully any statements by the initial journal regarding confidentiality. If the journal tells you that reports to are confidential, you break that, and they find out, they won't be pleased and you'll have a rather harder time the next time you submit to them, if nothing else. And there's a nontrivial chance that the new journal will be less than impressed by the breaking of confidentiality.)

Thus, you should weigh very carefully just how much useful information you can transmit in a response when you're not allowed to quote the comment that you're responding to. In principle it might be possible to broadly describe the types of concerns that were raised and then go on to talk about how you've edited the manuscript to fix those, but that letter just isn't going to be very effective.

All of which, of course, is over-ridden by the fact that this is a terrible idea to begin with, as already explained by Buffy and Allure. If the initial submission's reports were useful in pointing out flaws in the manuscript, then by all means fix them in the manuscript.

(In particular, if the reviewer pool for your topic is small and the new journal independently selects the same referees -- by no means an uncommon occurrence -- then those referees will be pleased to see that you've addressed their previous concerns. It happens with some frequency that referees will reject a paper on journal A and then get contacted by journal B to referee an unchanged manuscript; nothing spells death on a journal submission quite like that.)

Remember: the reviewers are part of the audience for your paper; in fact, they're the only members of your paper's audience that have both an explicit incentive to read your paper carefully and care about its contents and correctness, together with the opportunity to communicate all of their concerns to you. If there are parts of the paper where they didn't understand, or where they raised arguments which you would like to engage with, then address that in the text of the manuscript itself, where it will be available to the future readers who, like your reviewers, are likely to have similar concerns. Shifting those responses to a cover letter where they will be invisible to your audience does your readers a disservice.

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    I don't believe this is true. The Journal has to protect the identities of the referees, as well as the intellectual property of the author. I don't believe the author has any obligation to the journal. I think including the review in a new submission is not a good idea, but I don't think confidentiality enters into that. – Scott Seidman Oct 17 at 21:30
  • @ScottSeidman This will vary from journal to journal - many journals will explicitly mark referee reports as confidential and will be none too pleased should they find out they've been distributed - though there is certainly an ethical judgement to be made case-by-case, and nothing is written in stone. But, as a default option, I think I'll stand by this: pending specific consideration and absent clear over-riding reasons, referee reports should be considered confidential by default. – E.P. Oct 17 at 21:54

Depending on the field, your approach might be beneficial.

  1. If the pool of potential reviewers is small, a reviewer might reject a paper he already rejected for the IEEE Transaction of XXX without having a closer look.
  2. The editor can scan through the comments from the last review process and estimate how far your paper is from getting published. If the review does not request very major revisions, it might help you.
  • "The editor can scan through the comments from the last review process" - no, they can't. OP is (in principle) free to submit their responses to a new journal, but the referee reports are confidential communications between the author and the initial journal and they cannot be shown to a new journal without explicit written authorization from the initial journal's editor. Which then also means that the responses would be pretty useless. – E.P. Oct 17 at 11:51
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    A referee rejecting a paper they'd seen before without even checking to see if it had been changed would be ridiculous. Any such review would have to be either literally "I already read this and rejected it from another journal" or a copy of their original review, and both of those would be trivially refuted by the authors pointing out that they'd already dealt with the issues raised. – David Richerby Oct 17 at 14:14
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    @DavidRicherby Still, you can't rule out referees behaving sub-optimally. That's an obstacle that can be overcome, as you say, but it is still an obstacle which entails spending time, effort, and emotional energy that one would rather spend elsewhere. – E.P. Oct 17 at 15:30
  • @E.P. Sure. However, I don't think it's likely to happen and, in any case, your position is that the suggested prevention (supplying the comments from the first journal's reviewers and responses to them) violates confidentiality so can't be done. – David Richerby Oct 17 at 15:34

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