I'm asked by a reviewer to extend my manuscript (which is about cognitive radio network) to include one real-world network scenario. The exact words are:

"The authors should augment the paper with one particular "real-world" network scenario and demonstrate the functioning and performance of SE-CRN (my scheme name)."

Now I'm in puzzle. What is meant by the real-world network scenario? Should I take simulation parameters exactly as those stipulated in the IEEE 802.22 standard, and will this suffice to satisfy the reviewer's question? Or does it mean that I have to implement my scheme in real experimentation?

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    I think this is probably too research-field-specific than general to academia. It's probably much more productive to ask your supervisor or collaborators.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 16, 2020 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


I can't speak to your specific review, but I can comment at the higher level and give an example.

When a reviewer is asking for a real-world scenario, they are typically asking for an actual situation when the proposed approach will apply and could improve existing work.

The idea behind this type of request is to avoid seeing a large number of papers published that do not make a significant contribution, but are just variants on existing ideas. In these situations the ideas are often relatively obvious within the assumptions being made. The problem is that we can make up all sorts of assumptions and write papers about them. But, if the assumptions have no correspondence to any known problem, this isn't really advancing scientific knowledge.

To give a concrete example, in one of my first papers I wrote about how certain upper bounds could be incorporated into an existing algorithm. In my context I had found an application that provided these upper bounds, and then I reasoned about how I could use them to improve performance.

I was later told that someone else had considered these same types of upper bounds (in a slightly different context) previously. But, their work hadn't been published at a prestigious venue because they had simply asked the question "what could you do if you have these bounds". They were unable to actually provide a problem (that is, a real world scenario) in which the upper bounds existed. My work, in contrast, was published because the bounds were motivated by the domain that provided them.

In your case they want to know if you can talk about a situation where SE-CRN matches some set of operational constraints in the world and will thus be useful (have better performance) in exactly that situation.

From a networking perspective if you, for instance, made up a new packet congestion model and designed an algorithm to handle that model, but couldn't show that the model was relevant in any known application, you would get this sort of comment about looking for a real-world application.


Addendum: When papers are evaluated, reviewers typically use several different metrics of evaluation. These include things like significance, clarity, novelty, correctness, etc. Some fields will include validation or experimental results. The question of a real-world scenario is primarily addressing significance. That is, what is the measure of the impact on other researchers and practitioners in the field? Things like simulations are evaluated in comments on validation/experiments. The editors of a journal then have to trade off strengths and weaknesses in different areas when making a decision.

  • It means simulation and analytical results bear no significant in the book of the reviewer?
    – Abdullah1
    Mar 16, 2020 at 14:42
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    @Abdullah1 No, it doesn't mean that they bear no significance. It just means that their significance is partially determined by the nature of the application of the work.
    – Nathan S.
    Mar 16, 2020 at 17:26
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    And some "improvements" are only improvements in theory with no actual application in practice. Results based on simulation depend, fundamentally, on the quality of the simulation.
    – Buffy
    Mar 16, 2020 at 17:40

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