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I submitted my article earlier this year in January. After 5 months I received a "Major revision". There were 3 different reviewers and they made very relevant comments that I found very useful. I answered all the reviewers and resubmitted the article.

Months later I received a "Minor Revision". One of the 3 reviewers asked to add a future research direction section. The other asked to correct the number of a certain section. The corrections were easy and I resubmitted the article.

Surprisingly, today I received a "Major Revision", which is quite unlikely. The email contained comments from the editor and #reviewer10 (a new one). The associate editor's email was the following:

Editor comments: The comments from the reviewer are quite negative. The editor questions about the quality of the paper. The paper is not well written. The equations are not well edited. Some figures are given in quite low quality. The authors should carefully revise the paper. This maybe the final chance for the revision.

Reviewer #10: This paper focuses on electric energy forecasting based on artificial intelligence. Energy forecasting is one critical point in energy systems, and there are many research studies on artificial intelligence-based energy forecasting. However, the innovation of this paper is not enough. There are many research studies on artificial intelligence-based energy forecasting. For example, the neural networks, support vector regression, gradient boosting mentioned in this paper are common methods. It seems that the reviewer cannot find anything new. In addition, feature selection in load forecasting is also a common method. In general, the paper uses the common methods to solve a traditional problem. The reviewer suggests that the paper should not be accepted by this journal.

The comments from the associate editor are surprising. If there werr some issues with the English in the paper or some figures, this would surely have been dealt with during the 1st revision or the 2nd revision. In the previous emails, the same associate editor didn't mention any issue or comments. But now suddenly there is an issue.

The comments from the reviewers demonstrates that the reviewer have not taken the time to read carefully or have not understood the content of the paper. There was 3 reviewers which made positive comments (accepted) the content.

Because "reviewer10" is written, I would assume that the paper was reviewed by at least 6 reviewers. None of them made a negative comment. So how am I getting "rejected" because of one bad review out of 10? Even if it is a major revision, the due date is 24 November, which is 13 days ahead, quite bizarre for a "major revision".

My question is: Is there anything I could do? Should I raise my concerns to the editor or refuse the revision?

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    It's not true that there were 6 other reviewers who were ok with the paper. There were likely 6 others reviewers who were invited, but who either did not respond at all or who declined to review. You can't draw inferences about how they would have judged the paper. Nov 12, 2020 at 16:51
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    Does not apply here, but I've had papers for review where I asked for a clarification (minor revision) and the clarification revealed major problems. So, yes, major revision after minor revision happens, and in a perfectly legitimate manner. Nov 12, 2020 at 18:08
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    Are you sure that this journal is high-quality? The editor does not seem to be. Nov 12, 2020 at 20:37
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    @lighthousekeeper it's a high impact factor elsevier journal. Nov 12, 2020 at 21:14
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    I was the reviewer of a paper that brought up a host of problems with a paper, even after three other reviewers accepted! It was for a top journal, and I declined the first invitation but accepted the invitation in the second round. It was obvious the other three reviewers did not read the paper carefully or are 'friends' of the authors or that their level is too low. The editor recommended major revision, and I've yet to see the revised paper. Aug 1 at 6:30

2 Answers 2

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There are a lot of things you can do, but if you want the paper to be published by this journal, it is almost certainly necessary for you to undertake the major revision.

Refusing to revise will almost certainly result in an immediate rejection, based on the editor comments.

You can withdraw the paper and submit it elsewhere as always.

I'll note that "reviewer10" might not mean the tenth actual review of your paper, but a nominal identifier. There may have been some reviewers invited, but who did not submit reviews, for example. I'll also note that it may be "reviewer10" with the most knowledge of the area, though that isn't necessarily so. In that case, the other reviews were too superficial. And the opposite may also be true, of course, with that reviewer having too little experience.

But the editor's comments are not to be ignored. You can do your own analysis about whether the comments of the reviewer have validity or not. If they say it is standard work with little innovation, then that should be possible to check. You could, of course, ask for evidence of those statements if it hasn't been included.

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  • Thank you for your answer. As for the reviewer's comments, it doesn't include any evidence, and based on his arguments, he is saying that only traditional were used, which is incorrect, because i introduced a new method. With the proposed method, the feature selection task is not needed, and this is why i assume that the reviewer didn't read/understand the paper. On the contrary, the three previous reviewers understood the method and proposed some improvement related to the proposed method. Nov 12, 2020 at 15:47
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    I think you can ask for that evidence. Perhaps you will get a list of papers with prior work.
    – Buffy
    Nov 12, 2020 at 15:53
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    @NadjibBendaoud If someone doesn't understand your work, then I recommend that you consider this your problem and not theirs. Maybe it's because they were lazy, but even still it might suggest that you rewrite your introduction to make it clearer where the innovation lies.
    – academic
    Nov 12, 2020 at 18:26
  • @academic you are right i don't put all the blame on the reviewer, I'm always open for ways to improve my work. Although, the situation is very weird, knowing that the 3 previous reviewers understood the proposed method and made their criticism based on a good understanding of the method. Nov 12, 2020 at 18:48
  • I wonder if they were aware of prior art. If they were naive about this it would lead to an outcome like you are seeing.
    – Buffy
    Nov 12, 2020 at 19:00
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The comments from the associate editor are surprising. If there werr some issues with the English in the paper or some figures, this would surely have been dealt with during the 1st revision or the 2nd revision. In the previous emails, the same associate editor didn't mention any issue or comments. But now suddenly there is an issue.

I agree. Are you sure it's the same editor? It is also possible the role changed between revisions. Or maybe you made a mistake and submitted your manuscript as a new submission rather than a revision?

The comments from the reviewers demonstrates that the reviewer have not taken the time to read carefully or have not understood the content of the paper. There was 3 reviewers which made positive comments (accepted) the content.

This is not the right mindset, in my view. The reviewer is always right. If they did not understand the content of the paper, then it means your paper is not written well enough; its key points are not clear from the abstract / conclusions, for instance. If the paper gets published, your next readers will have even less time to look at it, so you'd better fix it and make sure that your contribution is spelled out clearly. Do not put the blame onto the reviewer; try to correct the mis-communication on your end. If the reviewer did not catch the novelty of your approach, you should have highlighted it more. A reviewer is just a random sample of your future readers.

Because "reviewer10" is written, I would assume that the paper was reviewed by at least 6 reviewers.

This is not correct, as pointed out by other people here.

None of them made a negative comment. So how am I getting "rejected" because of one bad review out of 10?

You are being rejected because of one bad review and the editor's judgment based on their own reading. One of the editor's responsibilities is precisely taking a decision in the case the reviews are mixed.

Even if it is a major revision, the due date is 24 November, which is 13 days ahead, quite bizarre for a "major revision".

That does indeed sound bizarre (even if journal timescales are very field-dependent). Maybe this was a mistake. You can surely write to the editor to ask for more time.

My question is: Is there anything I could do? Should I raise my concerns to the editor or refuse the revision?

It is unlikely that the editor will change their mind, if everything is as you state. You are not offering any more data; they already have made a decision based on what they can see, and arguing will not change this. I agree with you that the editor did not do a stellar job, noticing major issues only after the first revision when a new reviewer pointed them out. But ultimately they are the gatekeeper and the person you have to convince. And you need to convince them with your paper.

refuse the revision

Sure you can; you could withdraw the paper and submit somewhere else. If you think the quality of the editorial board is low, you can abandon this journal and search for a better one, for this submission and in future. I would suggest not blaming it on the editor, though, to avoid souring the relationship. This is a case when you have little to gain. The fact that the time for revision is so little offers you a diplomatic way out.

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