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I submitted a manuscript to a well-known journal (in education) and got two discrepant review results from two reviewers: one very positive (minor revision) and one negative review result (suggesting the editor to reject my submission). In spite of this, the editor gave me a major revision decision. I revised the manuscript; but the reviewer that gave me a negative review was still not happy after reading my first round of revision.

After seeing this, the editor thus invited a third (additional) reviewer to re-review the paper (during the second round of review). The third reviewer gave a very positive review endorsing the positive review from the second reviewer, and noted that "the submission is very insightful". The second reviewer did not gave further comments (hinting that s/he is probably happy with my revision). In this case, what do I expect next? I believe that I will never able to convince the first reviewer, although I did manage to revise the manuscript in full compliance with his suggestion. I believe that my second major revision will still sent back to all the three reviewers. If the first reviewer is still not happy, will the editor adopts the views from the 2nd and the additional reviewer? I personally feel that it would be unfair if the additional reviewer's view is not considered. By the way, I found that the third reviewer's comments are generally easy to tackle with (most of the comments are only asking for clarification).

Please advise based on your prior experience. Thanks very much.

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    Only the editor can answer this question. Anything here would be a guess. There are too many editors to make answers anything but random. – Buffy Jan 11 at 20:59
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    The editor should certainly consider the opinion of the third reviewer. However, after consideration, the editor could certainly still decide that they agree more with the first reviewer. It's not an election and the majority doesn't have to rule. As Buffy said, we can't guess what the editor will decide. – Nate Eldredge Jan 11 at 21:08
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It would be strange for the editor to solicit the third review and then not even consider it: that sounds like a waste of at least three people's time. However, as to how this will affect the final decision: as Nate Eldredge points out, the editor is not obligated to go with two out of three. In fact an editor may go against the recommendations of all the reviewers, and this certainly happens sometimes, especially in our day in which so many journals have "very high standards."

Buffy says "Anything here would be a guess." I agree, and here is my guess: if the editor solicits a third review and the third review is really positive, then the editor is likely to accept your paper unless the first reviewer comes up with new, relevant, significant negative comments. (Why? Because, again, the editor could just as easily -- and in fact, more easily -- have rejected your paper after the first two reviews.)

However, in some hard-nosed decision theoretic sense, you don't need to know the answer to this question, by which I mean to say that you will find out eventually and until then you have done the optimal thing. If that doesn't cheer you up: look, if two out of three reviewers are really enthusiastic about your paper, then even if this journal doesn't accept it, some other, similar journal probably will. Congratulations on your good work.

  • Even though I voted to close the question, I really like this answer, particularly the last paragraph. I hope the OP is able to take your advice. – Bryan Krause Jan 11 at 22:48

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