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I have reviewed a paper for a journal, which I rejected. I wrote a 3 page report with major and minor comments. A week later, I received an invitation to review the same paper in another journal. The authors have nicely decided to ignore all of my comments, including correcting typos!

Is it OK to state in my new report that I was a referee for another journal, without revealing my identity of course. My report is going to be very similar to the previous one, but I was thinking of making a point about taking my comments more seriously (at least the obvious ones!). I am not planning to reject the paper straightaway, as I think the journal is now more appropriate and the paper has a good, if modest, contribution.

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    You didn’t reject the paper you made a recommendation to the editor that s/he should reject it.
    – rhialto
    Mar 17 at 23:08
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    Are you sure this is a new paper submission from after the authors received your comments? When only one week has passed, I would assume that the authors submitted the paper to the two journals at the same time.
    – jusaca
    Mar 18 at 9:56
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    What kind of comments did you have? Depending on the nature of the comments, a different answer from the available ones might apply. Mar 18 at 10:13
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    This happened to a colleague of mine (math). He reviewed and rejected a manuscript 4 times for different journals. Each time he made a remark showing how trivial one of the results was by giving an example. The authors kept adding those examples to the body of the submission (without credit). At long last my colleague gave the editor a brief account of the history. The editor was and was not amused (depending on whom they addressed next). You may want to do the same. Mar 18 at 14:35
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    Does this answer your question? Asked again to review a paper, when the authors don't wish to modify it
    – gerrit
    Mar 19 at 10:08
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I suggest copy-and-pasting your entire review, after double-checking nothing has changed, i.e., your review is still current. You should make your position clear to the editor and I suggest opening with a statement such as: I reviewed this manuscript a week ago for another journal. The authors have not addressed my comments and my opinion remains unchanged: ... Unlike another answer, I see no problem stating you were the reviewer to both the editor and the authors, since it'll be obvious to the authors anyhow.

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    In general I agree with this answer, but since OP will presumably change recommendation from "reject" to "major revision" I would simply say "for another journal". The authors already know what it is and I wouldn't want the editor to be influenced if they have a different opinion of the relative strength of the journal in question. Mar 18 at 9:48
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    If the second review came to OP one week later, then surely we need to suspect that the paper was submitted to both journals simultaneously; something probably both journals will look very poorly on. I'd recommend the OP at least mention the timeframe in their response to journal 2, and consider updating journal 1 of this development, too.
    – CCTO
    Mar 18 at 13:32
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    @CCTO If the second review came to OP one week later: I presume journal 1 rejected and the authors resubmitted (likely verbatim) to journal 2. I might be wrong.
    – user2768
    Mar 18 at 13:38
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    @user2768: can things happen that fast? J1 gets OP's response, sends it (or a rejection) to the authors, they resubmit to J2, and J2 chooses reviewers and get it out for review...in a week? Of course the journals may have included the information as to when the manuscript was received, which would resolve the question.
    – CCTO
    Mar 18 at 13:46
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    I would suggest sending that message ASAP. In case the editor decides to reject the paper based on this behavior, it may save another reviewer the trouble of reviewing that paper. And it isn't worth wasting more of your time on this paper at this point. Mar 18 at 21:05
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I would actually suggest not doing that. Send your comments to the editor rather than to the authors.

But if you make the same points in your report, then it will be pretty obvious to the authors that they have hit the same reviewer again.

And, as you say, the new journal has different standards.

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    As just a curious reader who is not working in academia (who maybe is hence missing something obvious), I wonder why you suggest not doing that. It sounds to me like there are no real arguments for either option?
    – lucidbrot
    Mar 18 at 9:32
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    @lucidbrot peer-review is supposed to be anonymous. If the OP tells the authors that she/he already reviewed the paper in question for Journal A, then this would leak the information that the OP is reviewer for both Journal A and Journal B. Clearly, the academic world is small sometimes, so this is bound to happen occasionally. Nonetheless, the review process is supposed to be anonymous, i.e. the authors should have no indication who reviewed their paper. In that case, the OP should reformulate her/his rejection, so that the fiction of anonymity can be upheld.
    – Dohn Joe
    Mar 18 at 12:34
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    I think it is worth telling the authors as well. They need to know that submitting the paper unchanged to another journal is not acceptable behaviour (peer review is intended to prevent incorrect arguments appearing in the literature so circumventing that quality control is a recipe for misleading the readers, who may not have the expertise to spot the flaws for themselves). Hopefully the editor will make that point to them, but I think it is better to share the responsibility rather than to leave it all to the editor. Mar 18 at 13:06
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    @DikranMarsupial, actually submitting after rejection without changing the paper is generally fine. It may not be in this particular case, but some rejections aren't about the quality of the paper but about the "fit" for the journal. But the review should be "about the paper itself" and not, at all, about who reviewed it.
    – Buffy
    Mar 18 at 13:13
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    I wouldn't say it was "generally fine", but that it is fine in the specific case of "this is not the right journal" type reviews, where sending it elsewhere is probably what the review advised them to do. However I don't think that is the case here - "a point about taking my comments more seriously" suggests that there were substantive criticisms. I have some sympathy with "about who reviewed it", but at the same time, I am uncomfortable with just leaving it to the editor (who are very busy and doing a rather thankless task). Mar 18 at 13:22
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I would state plainly the fact that you have previously reviewed this paper and your comments still stand. Of course, I don't know what your field of knowledge is, but in some journals it is actually expected from authors to have addressed comments from previous reviews even if they are from a different journal:

Resubmission of Previously Rejected Manuscripts. Authors of manuscripts rejected from any journal are allowed to resubmit their manuscripts only once. At the time of submission, you will be asked whether your manuscript is a new submission or a resubmission of an earlier rejected manuscript. If it is a resubmission of a manuscript previously rejected by any journal, you are expected to submit supporting documents identifying the previous submission and detailing how your new version addresses all of the reviewers’ comments. Papers that do not disclose connection to a previously rejected paper or that do not provide documentation as to changes made may be immediately rejected.

Of course, this rule may not apply to the journal you are currently reviewing for, but you can always check directly with the AE.

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  • Plus 1 for signalling this possibile circumstance. Though I suspect that it actually happens when it is a point of force for authors (eg a referee discussing minor points, recommending rejection for A and submission to B. This case could have been one, if the authors would have considered recommendations from OP.
    – Alchimista
    Mar 18 at 10:38
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    Sadly they have not, not even the typos, which seems to suggest they have completely ignored the (unpaid) reviewing work by the OP because they didn't like it or couldn't be bothered to at least consider if her/his points were valid. Mar 18 at 12:14
  • I think you are misreading this. I believe those rules are about resubmitting an article to the same journal.
    – Kimball
    Mar 18 at 13:44
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    @Kimball it specifically says "any journal"
    – Kat
    Mar 18 at 16:37
  • @Kat I believe that is a statement from the publisher and they mean any of their journals. It's not a resubmission if you're submitting a paper to a different journal. However, I think it is relatively common in some fields to revise a paper and resubmit to the same journal after it has been rejected.
    – Kimball
    Mar 18 at 18:21
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There may be a much larger issue at stake. Simultaneous submissions are considered unethical for a series of reasons, the striking one because they lead to a waste of resources/workforce/brainwork.

Imagine the new submission was addressed by a different reviewer than you. Then there will be effectively at least 2 reviewers (you and the new one) plus two editors working on exactly the same paper. Does humanity have infinite resource to address research? no.

If this is not a problem to you, there is the more mundane copyright issue. When you submit, you generally have to disclaim if the paper has been submitted in the past to other journals, if it has been rejected, if you are submitting it to other journals at the same time, etcetc ... there you have to help the new editor, mentioning you reviewed the same paper. Do you know if the previous editor already made a decision?

If no, then these authors should deserve a reprimend call, they judge themselves above the system and they show a lack of trust in the peers ... but they still want to try some shortcuts to publish a peer-reviewed paper, instead of addressing your points, or politely decline to address them, simply trying their luck with another set of reviewers.

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  • "If no, then these authors should deserve a reprimend call (sic)" - from who? the editor('s), the reviewer?
    – CGCampbell
    Mar 18 at 10:47
  • @CGCampbell from the new editor, possibly from the old if it is clear that the two submissions were made in a short time span. Have a look at elsevier.com/authors/policies-and-guidelines or academic.oup.com/clinchem/pages/… or the policies regarding Duplicate Submissions from any other decent publisher.
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 18 at 10:52
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    Not only a reprimand: some journals ( signalprocessingsociety.org/volunteers/… ) ban authors caught on multiple submissions for some time. This is only fair, considering that when you submit a paper you're mobilizing resources (AE and reviewers) you're not paying for, so getting multiple teams of people to work for you to simply discard the work of one or more of them is not very nice. Mar 18 at 18:03
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My answer is similar but slightly different that the others here:

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with taking a rejected paper to another journal and that the authors are free to ignore your comments from the first review (except for cases as described by Asuranceturix).

If you choose to disclose that you are reviewing the paper for a second time, this comment properly is sent to the editor of the journal, not the author(s) of the article under review.

While you are certainly free to use a verbatim review on the second instance of the article, consider that (at least in my field), the community is small enough that maybe 10% of the time you can figure out who wrote the review and providing the same review for two different Journals likely increases your chances of being identified by the authors. Whether you consider this a possibility and whether you care about it are up to you.

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    I disagree that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with ignoring comments, it is a recipe for publishing incorrect arguments. If you send a paper to a sufficiently large number of journals in the publishing pyramid it will get published somewhere eventually. If the reviewers reject your paper and you have no cogent counter-argument to their criticism, then they have done you a great favour in the long run. Mar 18 at 13:11
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    I'd say there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the reviewers' comments, as long as you can support your disagreement. Actually, if you can explain why the point raised by the reviewer is wrong, you should probably change (at least the wording of) your paper so that the next reader cannot raise the same objection. Mar 18 at 19:06
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    @Asuranceturix very true. ISTR reading that peer review is providing you for free the advice of an expert whose time you could not afford to buy. We should try and get full value for their generosity. If nothing else, the golden rule suggests we should treat reviews of our papers the way we would like others to treat our reviews (I suspect that wouldn't be ignoring them and submitting the paper somewhere else after we have spent time and effort to help them improve their work!). Mar 18 at 19:57
  • @Asuranceturix Indeed, you're expected to address the comments, even misunderstandings, not just apply the suggestions; often it's by improving/clarifying the argument in the paper. Mar 19 at 5:23
  • Yes, I chose poorly in saying "ignore" (I was thinking of one reviewer who asked me to remake a plot in what I considered to be both the most difficult to produce and visually horrifying way possible). As above, I rightly intended that the author is not obligated to do whatever a reviewer wants. Peer review is supposed to be a collaborative process, hence writing the reviews and responses laying out not just what changes, but also why. The reviewers are your peers and you should read, consider, and treat their marks with the respect owed any other non-anonymous colleague.
    – MoinMoin
    Mar 19 at 10:39
-1

I would be sure nothing was changed and then send my same comments to the editor.

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  • This is also a straightforward answer. Perhaps even the more natural one.
    – Alchimista
    Mar 21 at 15:33

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