Recently our paper was rejected in an journal.

Now, after two resubmissions a Reviewer was not satisfied and the editor sent it to an independent reviewer, who was satisfied with our previous revisions.

But now he asked a new set of comments and thereby the editor rejected it. Our main objection is that the new comments were based on a comment bya Reviewer and was already answered in the first resubmission.

So is there any chance for rebuttal as the editor already gave 2 chances for resubmission before? and as the independent reviewer has misunderstood the work and is asking the same question?

  • "...the editor sent it to an independent reviewer, who was satisfied with our previous revisions. But now he asked a new set of comments and thereby the editor rejected it. Our main objection is that the new comments was based on a comment by Reviewer 1 and was already answered in the first resubmission" I don't understand: Why was the independent reviewer looking at a version of the manuscript which didn't address the comment? – user2768 Jan 14 at 8:45
  • It was not a major comment, we addressed via adding few lines in the text. The comment was based on a concept that was similar but not same. Now, this new reviewer thought that the concept was same and completely misunderstood the work. – newstudent Jan 14 at 8:51
  • If the reviewer "though the concept was [the] same," then maybe your text needs to be revised to make sure the readers cannot make such mistakes. – user2768 Jan 14 at 9:02
  • 2
    When a paper is rejected by a journal, submit to another journal. Do not argue with the editor. – GEdgar Jan 14 at 13:16

Only the editor who rejected the paper can respond to this. But before you send it, be sure that you have somehow addressed all of the objections and improved the paper based on any helpful reviews.

You don't have to actually do what a reviewer would like, as you still have ownership of the work, but you do need to consider them in any revision. But don't just put in "a few lines" out of context or in rebuttal. Weave any updates into the text. I doubt if you have done this, but including a comment in a paper like "In response to a reviewer we would like to add..." is awkward. That stands out both for the editor and later the reader.

You can send the editor your best version and ask for reconsideration, but it is up to him/her. If you don't get a positive response, consider submitting elsewhere.


I will give the perspective of someone who has been an independent reviewer brought in on a disputed manuscript.

You do not know what the reviewer wrote to the editor. In a recent manuscript where I was asked to review in the situation you are in, I provided constructive and actionable feedback to an author. I discussed where the author had adequately answered the reviewers concerns and had not met those concerns. And then in the private comments to the editor, I expressed my reservation about the manuscript.

Do not take the rejection personally. This is a normal part of academia. I had a paper rejected after three rounds of edits recently! A year in the review process and the editor decided enough was enough and cut our paper loose. We looked at the feedback from reviewers objectively and prepared the manuscript for a different journal.

My advice, there is little chance that you will sway the editor. Accept their decision and move on. Fields are small and memories are long. Take the reviewer feedback that you were given and feel good that you got solid feedback on a manuscript draft from scholars in your field. Then incorporate that feedback and resubmit to a different journal.

A word of warning about resubmission. Address the feedback of the reviewers before you resubmit.

  • @newstudent, if more than one person has the same misunderstanding, you probably need to reword to communicate more clearly. – Peter Taylor Jan 14 at 15:48
  1. Move on. Haven't you wasted enough time with that journal? (Whether you were in the right or whether the editor was.)

  2. Without a little more detail it's hard to get any inkling of the issues. Don't know the field, don't know the objections. But there is at least the possibility that the reviewer comments and editor decision are valid. They may actually just be valid. Or they may at least be poor communication.

  3. My advice if you want to get published is to write very classic "datapoint science" papers. Don't claim big discoveries but just literally report your experiment and the observations. Be completely candid about any lack of controls, experimental issues, etc. Nobody has time to do the perfect experiment, especially the first time round. But if you are just clear what you did, than the paper is the paper.

    Note that this does not mean you need to walk away from all interesting intuitions from the work (they are of interest and benefit to the reader), but just take a more caveated approach and make it clear where you are speculating. For example the report is "varied temperature and the material showed this pattern in conductivity". Intution/speculation (towards the end of the paper) could be along the lines of "The graph suggests possible onset of weak localization. Further work (e.g. with more advanced methods such as umptifratz spectroscopy) is needed to confirm this hypothesis and determine the extent of the phenomenon.

    The idea is you are not totally hiding your light under a bushel or boring the reader by hiding from showing him some possible interesting insight. But you're also not going around bragging and hyping with weak evidence (like WAY too many papers in Science/Nature do).

    The point I am trying to make is that it is very easy to just publish uncontested work. I synthesized something, I varied the temperature, I measured the conductivity might be uncontested. (Actually they could be contested to, but for the sake of argument let's assume that both you and the reviewer agree, here.) That's good enough. It's a contribution. Publish it. Now "we are near a superconductor" is a much more tenuous and arguable claim (absent smoking gun evidence by resistivity and magnetic...AFTER the transition, not "near it"). So you probably want to cut or at least properly caveat such speculation (make it clear it is not the point of the paper).

    The same issues would apply for biological or social research (here there are often practical limits of expense and number of data points). Doesn't mean you can't publish--for instance, if you are going to move on from the work, it's actually in the interest of science for you to write up even incomplete work, so at least someone may benefit from the time spent--but it just means to be honest about the warts. And not to make strong statements of insight if you haven't done strong work to rebut criticisms.

    I am not an expert on theoretical work but I think the same would even apply there. For example, "we suspect a new property of prime numbers, that every third prime is related to differential equation X by transform Y. We have checked the first 100,000 such primes and see no deviation. Our efforts to prove the relation to date have been unsuccessful. We suspect the phenomenon is related to recent findings/research in boundary flow phenomena because of the similarity of the two differential equations, but have not been able to definitively link the two problems." [And then publish it in a lower rank journal.]

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