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I have revised my initial manuscript with a major revision after the first decision. After long months of waiting, I received reviewing results with another major revision. Two reviewers were completely satisfied with my revision and recommended acceptance. One, possibly, new reviewer suggested some improvements but didn't question the novelty of this manuscript. And one reviewer from the previous round said that this manuscript lacks novelty and should be completely revised with new ideas, questions and methods. I don't understand how it's even possible to do that without a completely new, written from scratch, manuscript. Also, we have a comparative literature review and listing what is the novelty in the Introduction and we have comparative numerical experiments in the Simulation section. I don't know if this reviewer advised rejecting because major revision looks impossible. Please, advise on how best to deal with this situation

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    When the reviewer says your manuscript lacks novelty, does he/she provide evidence? If not, then you should argue by providing evidences; write the state-of-the-art clearly, and show the reviewer where the gaps are. – Prof. Santa Claus Jun 4 at 7:13
  • The editor's decision was "major revision". They expect you to provide convincing arguments that your research does not lack novelty. If they believed this reviewer, they would have rejected the manuscript. – Roland Jun 4 at 7:20
  • He/She did not give any clarifications of why this paper lacks novelty. Also, there were no examples of similar, directly related work in this "review". Only: "The problem is commonplace question, it has been studied for many years". And that's all. This is why I am so discouraged. – Tag Jun 4 at 7:24
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    Best chat with your supervisor. – Solar Mike Jun 4 at 7:58
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Based on your comment, I understand that the reviewer doubts the novelty of your work, without specifying details (previous works achieving the same or something very similar as your work).

This kind of feedback is essentially worthless, and should not influence the decision on your paper (if it's a sane editor).

I recommend the following strategy: Systematically address all other reviewer feedback and, based on your revisions, write a strong author response letter. Regarding the criticism of novelty, include a response among the following lines in your response letter:

To our knowledge, our work is the first to achieve X. We discuss the novelty of our work in comparison to related work in section Y of the paper. We would appreciate any pointers to additional works which should be considered in our discussion.

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  • Many thanks for your answer. What is your opinion, should we also address the Editor with similar arguments before comments to reviewers in Response Letter? – Tag Jun 4 at 8:43
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    @Tag If the editor commented about novelty as well, respond to that comment as part of the response letter. Otherwise, just respond to the reviewer. – lighthouse keeper Jun 4 at 8:45

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