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The editor explained further information is needed from the referee. This is basically what "query to referee" means. But I am wondering what it implies. Is the report good or bad? Does anyone has any experience on this issue, and what is the outcome?

  • My first guess is that the query might be "When will you get this report done?" But there are lots of other possibilities, like "How much of your report may I share with the authors?" or "Did you perhaps accidentally omit the word "not" on line 57 of your report?" or "Is the paper really that wonderful?" or "Is the paper really that hopeless?" ... – Andreas Blass Dec 10 '18 at 6:29
  • Thanks @AndreasBlass! This query was sent after the report was sent in. I thought that the referee probably did not give a definite conclusion on the paper, which led to further query to the referee. But I am not sure. – New Kolege Dec 10 '18 at 20:44
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It can mean that there was something problematic about the referee's report. This can indicate that there is some kind of inconsistency between what the referee says in different parts of the report. For example, the referee may have provided a very positive written evaluation, but accidentally clicked the box saying "Reject." If that happens, the editor will naturally ask the referee to clarify what they actually meant.

One other thing it can mean, particularly in connection with a journal like Physical Review Letters, which has selection criteria that require more than just a correct and interesting paper. If a paper is deemed to be, in fact, correct and interesting, there may still be some additional back-and-forth communication between the editor and referee(s) to ascertain whether the work is important enough for that particular journal.

  • Thanks @Buzz! Your answer is so clear and reasonable. Do you know how long the "query to referee" usually takes, or will the editor give another month for the referee to answer those queries? – New Kolege Dec 11 '18 at 3:51

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