We submitted a paper and got two rejections (from reviewers 1 & 2) and two acceptances (from reviewers 3 & 4) after the first round of revision. Now we have received a letter from the associated editor asking us to again revise the paper, and to include a response letter addressing the concerns of reviewers 1 and 2. Hence, the paper is not rejected or accepted.

We feel reviewer 1's comment to include a new case study is not reasonable, and reviewer 2's comment fundamentally changes the problem structure. We explained our reasoning in both cases in detail in our original response letter (especially in response to reviewer 1).

Is it reasonable to appeal to the associate editor at this stage (i.e., before rejection)?

UPDATE: The paper got published in the next revision. We took a middle path strategy: I wrote directly to the associate editor and briefly discuss my objections with the reviewer 1 & drafted my response letter to reviewer 2.

  • I guess "rev" stands for "review" here. I read it as revision and was thoroughly confused at first... Still, there isn't a lot to go on in your question, so the answer at this point basically is "maybe". Perhaps you could read [Paper rejected. Should I appeal against biased reviews? ](academia.stackexchange.com/q/19726/17254) and see if that answers your question, or helps you formulate a sharper question.
    – Anyon
    Nov 24, 2018 at 5:18
  • 1. I also thought Rev. in the question stands for "Revision". 2. Please clarify if your paper has been rejected or not. Vote to close as "unclear what you're asking".
    – Nobody
    Nov 24, 2018 at 7:41
  • The question was indeed ambiguous. I clarified it now. The paper is not rejected. Nov 24, 2018 at 18:59
  • 4
    In order to "appeal" X, first X has to happen, where X is some kind of decision. In your case it sounds like the decision hasn't happened yet, so it is too soon to appeal. You needn't make all revisions requested by reviewers. If you don't, it's good to include some kind of response as to why you're not doing that. If you feel that some of the reviewers' suggestions are especially out of line -- yes, you may want to write to an editor and mention that. Nov 24, 2018 at 20:13
  • 1
    @user2512443 - questions here are opened/closed by vote (you'll be able to vote once you have sufficient reputation). I have edited again to make it clearer (please correct my edits if necessary; a few details were still ambiguous) and voted to reopen; your question will be reopened if we get ~2 more reopen votes.
    – cag51
    Nov 24, 2018 at 20:47

2 Answers 2


Not a journal editor, just a researcher.

I would respond to the reviews directly. You don't have to accept all the proposed changes; you can simply say "We feel this fundamentally changes the problem structure...." and give a paragraph or two on why.

That said, I might also reply to the AE. This can be very brief, something like "Our updated draft and responses are submitted. Note, however, that the two negative reviewers requested significant changes that we do not feel are appropriate; we reiterated our objections in our response." That way there is no formal appeal (yet), but perhaps the AE will review more carefully if the reviews come back the same as before.

  • Thanks for this comment. It was indeed invaluable. Feb 13, 2019 at 4:11
  • Thanks for the update, always nice to see how things turn out.
    – cag51
    Feb 13, 2019 at 8:08

In my experience it's reasonable to appeal to the associate editor IF you can convincingly respond to the reviewer comments. In this case it sounds like you think the reviewers are asking for too much additional work that either distracts from your main question, or is simply not practical to perform. You might think from their perspective, why might they be asking for these additional things to be added to your paper? Is there a common underlying flaw that could be corrected such that the reviewer concerns could be addressed without performing the additional research?

In my experience as an author and reviewer (i.e. from the outside looking in!), the editor seems to have established protocols in the case of an appeal, it's not necessarily just "at their discretion." Since there are split reviews, the editor will likely simply invite a 5th reviewer, or else kick your response letter back to the original 4 reviewers to see if your arguments persuade them.

I don't see any harm in filing an appeal if you think you have a strong case to make, but make sure you word your appeal carefully, addressing the substance of the reviewer concerns as thoroughly as you can with the assumption that at some point the reviewers may see the appeal letter. The only thing it will cost you is time that could have been spent in review at another journal if the editor ultimately upholds the rejection.

  • Thank you for your detailed response! I liked your point that editors have established protocols. We plan to craft a letter to the associated editor and keep that in mind that it could be handed out to reviewers. We are still fully okay if it will be handed out to Rev 5, as well. Nov 24, 2018 at 19:06
  • One thing that I had not mentioned in my original post is that the paper is not yet rejected or accepted. Nov 24, 2018 at 19:44

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