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I am in the process of writing a rebuttal response for a conference submission. Unlike others, a reviewer who only looked at the first 3 pages stated that there is a fundamental error (that he explained) and he rejected the paper without looking at the rest. I will explain to him how he missed a key part.

My question is: Is it normal to ask him explicitly in the rebuttal letter to reconsider his evaluation score? especially since his score becomes very important to the overall scores.

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    Just say that there has been a misunderstanding. Then rewrite/organize to ensure it does not happen again to a future reader.
    – VitaminE
    Oct 3, 2021 at 22:04
  • There is no error reviewer spoke off; or there is the error but you believe/know it shouldn't influence the later results? Oct 4, 2021 at 10:18
  • Do you know the identity of the reviewer? If not, be careful about assuming that they are male. Oct 5, 2021 at 2:59
  • Talk the point through with other people first and maybe find some source/citations which prove your point. In my opinion it is more likely the other reviewers missed the mistake than the current one being wrong about the mistake.
    – lalala
    Oct 5, 2021 at 9:53

2 Answers 2

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Your job is to address the reviewer's comments, not the reviewer. You don't ask the reviewer to change the evaluation.

You should explain in your response to the editor that what the reviewer thinks is an error is in fact correct - give reasons that directly address what the reviewer said.

You cannot know that the reviewer stopped at page 3. If the reason the supposed error isn't actually an error is addressed on page 7, just say that. Do not say the reviewer didn't read it.

If the explanation you want to give to the reviewer calls for material that is not in the paper, then the reviewer is right.

You can note that the other reviewers found no error. Clearly there was something you did not explain to that reviewer's satisfaction. If you can, add wording early on that would keep a reader from misreading your paper and thinking it wrong.

Thank all the reviewers and provide the extra material in the resubmission.

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    Thank you for the answer. The reviewer himself mentioned that he was not able to continue after that issue (understandably, this would have been the case if that issue was indeed wrong), but as I mentioned I am pretty confident that he missed something important there, the other reviewers looked at the entire paper without even worrying about what this particular reviewer considered as a fundamental error.
    – Avaa Ali
    Oct 3, 2021 at 21:42
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    @AvaaAli See my edit. Always give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt. After all, your readers might come to the same false conclusion. Oct 3, 2021 at 22:13
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No. You might not even get assigned the same reviewer should the review go for another round, and in that situation that direct address makes no sense whatsoever. As a rule of the thumb, never argue with a person, deal with the points they make instead. Otherwise, it often derails to something dangerously close to ad hominem arguments which are somewhat legitimized by political debates, but not in academia. Don't focus on what and how the reviewer or opponent is thinking, rather the essence of what they are saying - and let everyone else judge for themselves.

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  • The slurring reference to political debates is itself an ad hominem... (well, it's a more general well-poisoning, but fundamentally the same)
    – fectin
    Oct 4, 2021 at 17:24

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