A couple months ago I refereed a paper for one journal. Due to a number of factors, I recommended that it not be published in that particular journal, and gave the author a bunch of comments on how they could easily improve the manuscript. The editor of that journal followed my recommendation (and perhaps the recommendation of other referees I am unaware of) and did not accept the publication.

This morning I received another review request, this time from a different journal but for the same manuscript. I've never had this particular situation occur before, and am wondering what the expected thing for me to do is. Should I review the manuscript again as if I hadn't before, should I let the editor know first and see what they say, or what?

  • 2
    I think this may be a duplicate of “Asked again to review a paper, when the authors don't wish to modify it”
    – F'x
    Nov 7, 2013 at 15:38
  • Ask the editor. Often journals share information about reviewers (if they agree) and even share reviews (again, if they have agreed to that). Therefore it might be the editors desire that you review the manuscript again.
    – Mark
    Oct 15, 2017 at 21:19
  • There are a lot of anecdotes along the line "I am now reviewing this paper for the fourth time, I rejected it previously all the time, and any bit of it had not changed since then." Dec 23, 2018 at 22:32

2 Answers 2


There are no problems associated with you reviewing a paper again, regardless if it resubmitted to the same or a different journal. Since you have seen the paper earlier and know its earlier problems you can better judge how it has improved and to what extent it is now publishable. You should definitely let the editor know that you have been involved in the process of this paper earlier even if he/she has not indicated the paper has been rejected somewhere before. That information provides the editor with a better perspective of the development of the paper and can make the decision to accept or reject easier since the willingness or capability of the author(s) to improve the manuscript is set in perspective.

You can always contact the editor and state that you are willing to take on the review but felt it was necessary to convey the information. I do not see it as necessary but it is of course a nice gesture.

  • 5
    Nice answer. Would your answer change if the manuscript was identical to the previously submitted paper (i.e., if the authors made no effort to improve the paper)? Nov 7, 2013 at 15:18
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    Yes, then I would simply tell the editor that I already reviewed that manuscript, that it was rejected and probably add that I see no reason to redo the review. The situation is an interesting one and I wonder what the editor would do, probably reject it without review (?). Nov 7, 2013 at 15:24
  • 7
    Thanks for the answer Peter. With respect to Chris' question, I think it also matters on the prestige of the journal. The first time I reviewed this paper it was in a higher-impact journal which specifically asked me to evaluate its impact. This was one of the reasons it wasn't suitable for publication. The new journal is lower-impact and thus if the authors have improved the other aspects of the paper I might think it suitable for publication in this journal.
    – gammapoint
    Nov 7, 2013 at 15:53
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    In the case that the manuscript is same as you recomended to reject, you spare editor's time because no improvement has been done and thus needn't be expected. If the manuscript is improved, you spare editor's time doubting whether they will follow comments or not. Telling when the first manuscript was submitted also gives information about what to expect. I can't see any drawback at all.
    – Crowley
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:02

I generally say "no" in these circumstances. I would say "yes" under either of two circumstances

1) I believe it is suitable for the second journal but not for the first

2) The paper is so wrong that the authors seem dishonest.

Ultimately, the whole journal peer review things comes down do finding two reviewers who think it's worth publishing. The same person rerefereeing is really just wasting everyone's time.

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