I recently got a reject & resubmit which usually would not bother me too much, however, this case is a bit special:

The specific journal runs a single-blind peer review process. One review was very positive and the other one was extremely negative (if not to say rude). The AE and SE also provided their own comments and decided "reject with merit". Which is ok, however, there is scant evidence that the negative review has been done by my former phd supervisor. As indicated by the rude review we did not separate after my graduation in a good way.

The problem is: I do not know how to proceed from this point. How do i make sure that i will get a fair and (more important) ethical review process after re-submission? I'm also not sure how common it is to ask the authors for a decision about the resubmission (incl. a concrete time horizon) after rejection (note it is a top trier journal).

According to the peer-review process i should have no idea about the reviewers. However, it is not always too difficult to figure out (in particular if the particular research area is small and you have worked for years for a specific memeber).

Many thanks in advance!

  • 4
    You can always ask in the cover letter that specific researchers be excluded as reviewers due to conflict. If the editor respects your wish, that is another question, but they potentially might. Dec 29, 2020 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


Let me suggest two things. First is that you ignore the rudeness and take what is in the reviews you got to improve the paper as best you can. In other words, standard practice.

But, when you resubmit, let the editor know that you have conflicts, beyond the paper, with individual A (by name) and that you don't believe they can give you a fair reading. Ask that the editor not assign them as your reviewer. I suspect that this is an unusual request (in some fields), but that it would be honored. The editor needs honest appraisals, unclouded by personal issues.

  • In my field it's pretty common on submission for journals to ask for a "list of reviewers" and "list of not reviewers". Editors are free to choose who they want to actually ask, and will typically find some of their own outside the first list, but I haven't seen one ignore the second list. Might be unusual that a former supervisor makes that list, or maybe not, but having the list/making the request itself doesn't seem unusual.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 29, 2020 at 16:31
  • Many thanks for the suggestions! I was not sure about the appropriateness of such a request (as it may appear a bit infantile). Luckily, the editor said that we do not need to directly address all comments in the reviewer letters. For some statements it would have been hard without embarrassing the specific reviewer and this would not necessarily have contributed to the situation.
    – kata_g
    Dec 29, 2020 at 16:35

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