In a review to a manuscript I wrote one of the reviewers claimed in strong words that two important references were omitted. In fact, both references were cited in the text. I suspect the reviewer is among the authors of these references, since I recommended one of them as a reviewer during submission. The manuscript was rejected and I do not plan to resubmit, still I am contemplating if I should respond to this presumptive mistake by the reviewer. The reason is that the perceived omission likely affects the reviewers opinion of me as an author in a negative way. I think that there is a non-negligible chance that the same reviewer may also review future work. Should I accept this and move on or should I ask the editor to forward to the reviewer a statement that the references were not omitted?

  • Are you sure you properly cited the 2 items you mention? maybe you have read them wrong until today and your citation were not proper, such as you state "fact A [33]" while the reference [33] in reality states "fact Ab000" and not "fact Ab005" as your text is presenting. Read carefully what the reviewer wrote, if you cannot understand it without resorting to guessing who the reviewer is, in your reply to the editor (if you feel like). What were the reasons given for rejection?
    – EarlGrey
    May 3, 2021 at 10:22
  • @EarlGrey The reviewer claimed that the reference were omitted as relevant prior work in the literature survey. In fact, they are cited exactly there. One reference is also cited for comparison in the results section.
    – user139149
    May 3, 2021 at 10:30
  • 1
    then before second guessing the reviewer intentions, triple guess your understanding of the work. And no, formulating a citation as "[33] previously investigated the topic" although common, it is not useful and it may be the reason why the reviewer didn't found the reference. Disclaimer: I am playing Devil's advocate role, we know only one side (factual and emotional) of the story, so I am playing my role being biased toward the other side of the story we don't know.
    – EarlGrey
    May 3, 2021 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


The manuscript was rejected and I do not plan to resubmit

Then do not respond.

Should I accept this and move on

Yes. Reviewers make mistakes. That's normal.

Most people who think they know who the reviewer was are wrong.


The editor rejected your paper, not the reviewer. You can quickly write to the editor that the reviewer may have overlooked your work, as seen in the not capturing/fully reading the citations you gave.

However, it is unlikely that the absence of them was so relevant to the decision.

"the perceived omission likely affects the reviewers opinion of me as an author in a negative way": it is not the opinion about you, it is about your work. If you take things so personally you are bound to a lot of insatisfaction in your life (academic and not). This apply to how you perceive yourself, as well as you perceive the others: stop assuming or guessing a reviewer identity and the "hidden" motives behind the request to cite certain works.

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