I work on an actively developed collaborative project. The project is a simulation package. The model has various manuals and guides. These guides are non-peer reviewed collaborative documents self published online. When features are added to the model it is important to keep the guides up to date. For example, when a new feature is added the user guide must be updated to enable users to use the new feature.
I recently added a major update to the code. I documented the use of the new submodel and it's numerical verification in the collaborative user guides.
To make this novel contribution permanently available to others (the guides are changing constantly) and to reach a wider audience, I submitted an article to an archived peer reviewed journal. The article included the theory, implementation and verification of the new submodel. i.e. some of the content from the guide is in the article.
One of the reviewer's comments I received was:
It bothers me that the present paper does not add any new findings or results to those already published in <the guide>. Figures xyz of the current manuscript are same as the Figures abc of <the guide>. Therefore, I do not recommend the publication of this paper in the <journal> in its present form. The authors must delineate the similarities and differences between the works mentioned above.
I am the author of the relevant sections of the guide. The guide is not a permanently available archived peer reviewed journal. That is the reason I decided to publish in a journal.
I would draw a parallel to a PhD thesis chapter (or an MSc thesis). These are publicly available, arguably more "peer reviewed" than manuals or guides and will be permanently archived. It is typical for thesis chapters to be converted in to journal articles - so why not a non peer reviewed, non permanent and unarchived manual?
Is this a valid and fair comment? Is content presented in manual or user guide be published in a journal?