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Recently my research article has been reviewed after first round of revision and has been sent back to me by editor. In addition, editor has written in a very clear manner that a thorough response and revision will make my paper eligible for second round of revision otherwise it would be a waste of time. In the light of reviewer's comments, one reviewer has completely recommended the paper and didn't ask for any change but what surprised me the most was other reviewer comments as he hasn't recommended my article for publication. both reviewer comments are complete in contrast with each other. for example, if first reviewer is telling that research article has explicitly stated its significance the other reviewer has stated that it is missing significance.

my question is, can i email editor to change this reviewer and request him to look for other reviewer although editor had told me before the reviewer in my field are not much in number. or just simply withdraw my paper from this journal?

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Asking for a change of reviewer is unlikely to succeed. If the editor asked you to revise on the strength of Reviewer Two's comments, it's pretty likely that they found those criticisms credible, and they will probably have severe doubts about publishing without addressing those criticisms one way or another.

I think most people who've gone through the publication process have received some "wrong" comments from reviewers. I've certainly had my share, and it's frustrating, especially when Reviewer One got what I was saying but Reviewer Two misunderstood.

The first instinct on receiving that kind of response is to challenge the review: Reviewer 2 is ignorant and they've misunderstood my work, can we just ignore them? But the editor probably doesn't believe that Reviewer 2 is ignorant, or they wouldn't have chosen them. And if Reviewer 2 misunderstood my paper... it's quite likely that other readers will too.

Usually it's better to take misguided feedback as a warning that I haven't communicated things as clearly as I wanted to, and address this by improving the explanation. Often this can be achieved by taking the points that I want to make to Reviewer Two, and just working them into the paper instead.

For example, in a comment on another answer, you wrote:

he lacks the understanding of the approach/methodology which i have adopted for the study. he is asking me to include results in quantitative form which is impossible as my research was policy based and i can provide references of many other studies that have used the same approach and performed qualitative research

My response to this might be to add some text to the introduction of the paper, e.g.:

Although it would be highly desirable to examine quantitative results, this is generally impossible because [discuss reasons]. Hence, prior research on this topic has instead taken a qualitative approach[spam citations here], which we follow in this paper.

Then note this change in your response to the review. Hopefully this will appease Reviewer Two. If not, then at least the editor can see that you have addressed these criticisms, and it's quite likely that you have made your paper more useful for readers who may not be familiar with the field.

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Since it was the editor that said you need a thorough "response", I think you need to revise. It sounds like s/he is trusting the second reviewer. Think especially about the significance. It may be that it is there, but you didn't state it clearly enough.

I doubt that the editor will respond favorably to such an email. Just re-think your paper and do a revision. You don't need to explicitly change it for any particular reviewer comment, but you need to consider what the reviewer has said and how you can improve it if possible.

It may just be that one of the reviewer (either one) has missed something, but you don't really know which.

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Your case is not unprecedented. This might happen. I think there are two options:

1) The editor knows that if you prepare a careful rebuttal / revision of the paper, this might potentially convince the second reviewer. Reviewers sometime sound very negative, but they can be eventually convinced. Keep also in mind that in addition to free comment, the reviewer also gave ratings. So, the editor might know better than you whether it is dead end or not. For example, when you review a paper some journals ask whether the paper will improved by revision. So, reviewer 2 might have indicated that.

2) The editor did not think very carefully, and just returned you a paper after 50/50 score. In such case, you might prepare the revision but this will not help and the reviewer 2 will continue be negative. Possibly, you will convince him/her in some points, but not in others. So, you will get another review round. Maybe one more etc.

Asking to replace reviewer might not be very appropriate, in case that the review sounded professionally. If you can convince the editor that the reviewer lacks understanding, then it might work better.

The bottom line: if the journal is not that good and you do not are to send the paper to another journal OR it is a lot of effort to prepare the revision, I think you can first write to the editor asking whether revision worth the effort and whether it is possible to replace this reviewer. If this journal is important for you, then prepare revision & rebuttal the best you can and hope that the reviewer will change his mind.

  • what i understand from reviewer no.2 comments, he lacks the understanding of the approach/methodology which i have adopted for the study. he is asking me to include results in quantitative form which is impossible as my research was policy based and i can provide references of many other studies that have used the same approach and performed qualitative research. that 's why i am thinking to convince editor of taking third party opinion. – Demet Jan 12 at 18:01
  • Maybe in rebuttal you can explain all this and the reviewer will agree. If the revision is not too time consuming, you may submit the revision with a detail rebuttal and also write the editor that while you explained everything in the rebuttal, you still have concerns regarding the competence of the reviewer. So, the editor might decide to replace him. – student Jan 12 at 18:59

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