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I have a manuscript submitted in a journal, and there is a newly-added reviewer after the first round of revision, which is surprising for me. The three other reviewers remain the same in the second round (this round) and agree with acceptance of the manuscript.

I don't know what reason is behind adding a new reviewer. Any thoughts?

7

While this is rare, it's not necessarily bad, and probably reflects more on the associate editor or the reviewers than you.

One of the jobs of an editor is to ensure that reviewers are sufficiently well qualified, objective, and thorough in their evaluation of a manuscript. Likewise, an editor-in-chief needs to ensure the handling editor is doing their job well as well.

It's hard to say without more details, but my guess on the most likely cause of this situation is that there was some issue with the original set of reviewers, such as:

  • Too many were your recommended reviewers
  • There was a critical missing perspective
  • One or more of the reviewers turned in a low-quality review (which the editor might have forced them to improve before it got to you)
  • The journal usually requires more than three reviews

This could be caused by bad choices by the handling editor or by having more than three reviewers originally assigned but some failing to return reviews.

Whatever the case may be, I would recommend not worrying about it too much. You can inquire with the editor if you wish, but don't be surprised if you don't get a particularly informative response (especially if the reason is a mistake they might feel embarrassed by).

Bottom line: it's not so strange, and your paper is probably still in good shape, though its fate is never certain until accepted.

  • It is surprising to me because the comments of this newly-added reviewer are way too much general and unspecific. – Bagher erfanian Feb 17 at 18:59
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    @Baghererfanian Maybe the journal just prefers to have four reviewers, then. – jakebeal Feb 17 at 19:35
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    @Baghererfanian This could also simply mean that the editor's plan didn't work out because the reviewer "underperformed". – lighthouse keeper Feb 18 at 12:25
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There are two possibilities

  1. a reviewer dropped and needed to be replaced.

  2. the editor needed to get someone with specific content or methodological expertise.

Those are the two most common reasons on why you see a change of reviewers. Sometimes you use a method and all three reviewers say they are not comfortable reviewing it.

Jaret

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    Or the editor just didn't find someone's review helpful enough. – Buffy Feb 17 at 18:43
  • All reviewers remain in the second round. Unfortunately, the comments of the new reviewer show that he is unfamiliar with our work :( – Bagher erfanian Feb 17 at 18:50
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There're many possibilities. Here are some:

  • One of the original reviewers declined to review the revision, and the editor decided he needed an expert to check your response.
  • The editor received confidential comments from a reviewer saying he should invite a reviewer with [expertise], and decided to do that in the second round of review.
  • Or possibly the editor had already invited reviewers with [expertise], but they declined. Since there are already three reviews, he opted to let you revise first and then invite reviewers with [expertise] after revision.
  • The journal's standard policy is to require a certain (>3) number of reviewers. Again, since the editor already has three reviews, he opted to let you revise first and then invite the remaining reviewers after revision.
  • The handling editor (not the editor-in-chief) invited three reviewers and was happy, but the editor-in-chief has a close friend who also works in your field and he thought, "I'm sure my friend will be interested in this, let's ask him".

Overall it's not something to worry about; just wait and let the process run its course.

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It's definitely unusual. We could speculate all kinds of reasons (innocent or nefarious). But you should be capable of brainstorming the same.

You should send an email to the editor asking for an explanation.

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