I am in an embarrassing situation. I have submitted my article three times, to three different journals, and always I get the same reviewer who copies and pastes the same reviews which actually make no sense.

With my first submission I had two review cycles, and two of the reviewers recommended accepting the article; however, this reviewer strongly rejected it. I submitted to another journal (it had binary review system), and again the same happened, same reviewer same comments. Now I have received a third rejection (this journal is also has a binary review system), from the same reviewer with an extra comment that now other related work exist. (Of course now other related work exists, because you have been rejecting the paper for two years.)

Before submitting my article for the fourth time, to a different journal, can I tell the handling editor that we don't want this particular reviewer?

If yes, how can we ask the handling editor without knowing the identity of this reviewer? Some journals ask for a list of reviewer to oppose at the time of submission. But how we can identify this particular reviewer?

Or, can we ask the editor who handled of previous submissions to disclose the identity of particular reviewer?

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    You won't get much luck if you don't have a strong argument on why this reviewer shouldn't be trusted. You can't bar him just because you don't like what he/she says. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:48
  • 1
    We addressed his/her comments in our first submission. but the he/she keep rejecting and his comments are very harsh. He/she use words like shameful results etc. who knows he/she has some personal issues?
    – Mohaqiq
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:53
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    @MBK When you got the second rejection, you should have appealed to the handling and/or chief editor then with the complaint that they rejected the paper before, it was unduly harsh, and you (hopefully) addressed their comments, yet they copy and pasted the same review. You could have asked then for a third reviewer. Unfortunately, your chances of a positive resolution are now lower due to the lack of novelty. Moral of the story: if there's a legitimate issue do something about it promptly, not keep resubmitting hoping to do better.
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:36
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    Just ask not to get Reviewer #2 again. Everyone knows that guy.
    – Thomas
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:37
  • @MBK, can you elaborate on what they meant by "shameful results". Did they not like your findings? Did they not like your conclusions from those findings? Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 0:11

2 Answers 2


can I ask the handling editor that we don't want this particular reviewer?

No, because you don't know who they are, and you have no way to find out.

can we ask the Editor of previous submission to disclose the identity of particular reviewer?

No, definitely not. That would be an inappropriate request. The editor would likely suspect that you wanted their name in order to retaliate against them in some way. The editor would surely not comply, and might form doubts about your ethics, which could affect any future interactions you might have with the editor or the journal.

You could mention in your cover letter that you have had a problematic reviewer who said X,Y,Z, so that the editor would be forewarned. However, I think this only helps if objections X,Y,Z are self-evidently absurd, which is probably not the case because three previous editors apparently took them seriously. Also, it tends to draw attention to the fact that your paper has previously been rejected, which although it should not matter, may in practice bias the editor against it.

I would suggest instead:

  • Edit your paper to address the reviewer's objections as much as possible. Even if their objections are completely wrong, you can clarify the paper to make it more clear that they are wrong. "One might think that X is a problem here. However, this is not the case, because of A."

  • Regarding the "related work", you need to update your paper to discuss this work. Even if it didn't exist when you originally wrote the paper, it exists now, and when you sumbit to a new journal, it is your responsibility for your paper to properly address related work in the field as of the date of (the new) submission. You can say something like "After our work was substantially finished, we became aware of X" in order to assert that you had priority.

  • Otherwise, be prepared for the possibility that you may get the same reviewer yet again. If so, you can make the case to the editor that their objections are invalid, and ask for reconsideration. But of course it will be up to the editor to judge.

  • Some journals ask for the list of reviewer to oppose at time of submission. But how we can identify this particular reviewer ?
    – Mohaqiq
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:27
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    I agree. If the reviewer's comments actually are completely wrong, then appealing a rejection decision is the right way forward. Of course OP might want to discuss with a colleague to make sure that they're right, and that the referee is wrong.
    – Anyon
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:28
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    @MBK: You can't identify this reviewer. That's my whole point. So you will not be able to use the list of opposed reviewers to deal with this situation. (If you have a guess as to who they are, you can certainly oppose that person, but if you have no idea then you are out of luck.) Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:29

I'm pretty sure no editor would reveal the name of a reviewer, but you can ask. You can always ask. Just don't expect a responsive reply.

On the other hand, did you revise the article in light of the reviews or just submit the same thing to various publishers? Even if you don't agree with a reviewer, you need to rewrite, not necessarily accepting the advice, but "dealing with it" in some way. If you just send out the same thing, you can probably expect the same results from reputable journals.

Moreover, if you don't update the paper and send it to a lot of editors, you will build yourself a negative reputation with them.

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    Of course you can ask, in that it is physically possible to do so, but I think it would be seen as a very inappropriate request. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:50
  • Once the review process is ended their is no need of keeping identities secret.
    – Mohaqiq
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:54
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    @MBK: I strongly disagree, and I think the rest of the peer review system does too. The reason for their identity to be secret is so that you can't retaliate against them for writing a negative review. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:55
  • @NateEldredge make sense but how to deal this current situation? 2 years and one person. Some journals ask for list of reviewer to oppose at time of submission. But how we can identify this particular reviewer ?
    – Mohaqiq
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:57
  • @MBK: I wrote my own answer. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:04

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