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When reviewing a manuscript as a peer reviewer and providing written feedback on a manuscript that is clearly a Reject, how does one decide how much feedback to provide? By "clear Reject," I mean poorly written, lack of novelty, experiments not satisfactory, issues with references, etc. Should the time be taken to provide comprehensive feedback for all aspects of the paper (i.e., what I'd typically do for a major revision) or do I just note the major components that led to the rejection recommendation? In other words, how much time should I spend providing feedback for a paper that is not reasonably salvageable?

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  • @AnonymousPhysicist not exactly, but it is certainly useful. Based on your answer, would your recommendation be to be as comprehensive in your feedback for a really poor manuscript as you would any other?
    – kjacks21
    Jan 17 '21 at 1:32
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    I wrote there "Identify the main weaknesses of the paper. If the paper needs revision, then all weaknesses which need correction should be listed." It sounds like this paper does not need revision, so only "main" weaknesses are sufficient. If the entire manuscript lacks novelty and it is not useful as a replication study, then that should be sufficient feedback. Jan 17 '21 at 1:49
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    That makes sense. I misinterpreted "revision" in your linked answer as being whether it needed revision at all. In this case, "identify the main weaknesses" answers my question.
    – kjacks21
    Jan 17 '21 at 2:10
  • I think the answer might vary. Assuming you have time to spend on it, the more the details the better is for the authors. Once I got a paper that was so surprisingly poor that indeed my report was laconic. But there was literally nothing to do....
    – Alchimista
    Jan 18 '21 at 9:38
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You don't need to provide a large amount of feedback to the author, but you need to provide enough of a description of the inherent problems for the editor to reconcile between disagreement in referee reports, if that comes up. The manuscript is a "Clear Reject" for you. I suspect that is not the status that the authors believe it to be, and possibly other referees will not see things the same way.

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For a manuscript that's so clearly a reject for all the reasons you state, I would not spend much time at all on feedback to the author. Of course you list those reasons for the editor.

If you are feeling generous with your time you could point out one instance of each of the kinds of flaws.

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