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Few months ago, I had submitted a manuscript to the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters (PRL). The manuscript had undergone two rounds of review at PRL where it was reviewed by a total of five reviewers. Three reviewers had recommended for its publication in the PRL, while the fourth reviewer considered the manuscript to be more suitable for another journal from the American Physical Society family - Physical Review E. Unfortunately, the fifth reviewer had rejected the manuscript without citing any reason. In fact, the editor of the PRL had even agreed that the manuscript warrants publication but following their rule that allows a manuscript to be reviewed for a maximum of only two times, PRL chose not to take the reviewing/publishing of the manuscript any further.

Is it okay to mention the above information in the cover letter of the next journal that I am targeting for my manuscript? Could the editor get a negative vibe from it? Could it backfire?

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  • academia.stackexchange.com/questions/118541/… Does this answer your question?
    – Allure
    Nov 6, 2021 at 5:22
  • @Allure thank you for the tip, but my situation is quite different.
    – Vikash
    Nov 6, 2021 at 5:31
  • Are you transferring to another APS journal, or submitting to an entirely different journal/publisher? Also, depending on the reports, this might be a case where it's worth considering an appeal.
    – Anyon
    Nov 6, 2021 at 5:49
  • @Anyon, I had made an appeal, but the rule as I was told is that if a manuscript is rejected from an APS journal, then no journal from the APS family will consider it for review/publication. I am submitting the manuscript to an Elsevier journal.
    – Vikash
    Nov 6, 2021 at 6:00

1 Answer 1

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Reviewers are generally expected to judge a submission on it's own merits. Reviews of prior submissions (to completely unrelated venues) are not typically a part of that.

I'm not sure what you expect to accomplish by including it. A rejection letter, even a complimentary one, probably isn't going to give you an edge in the review process (but it could certainly backfire).

Just follow their normal submission process. Having been on other side of the table, it would definitely rub me the wrong way if an author tried to gain an advantage with something like this. Let your work speak for itself.

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  • Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it.
    – Vikash
    Nov 6, 2021 at 8:48
  • Just a follow up - Is it okay to mention the name of an undesired reviewer in the cover letter?
    – Vikash
    Nov 6, 2021 at 16:14
  • As in, asking to avoid a specific reviewer? Unless you have a strong reason that could undermine the legitimacy of the review (e.g. conflict of interest), I wouldn't recommend any attempt to interfere with the review process. There's a reason blind reviews are common practice, and non-blind reviews are still expected to be objective and unbiased. Nov 6, 2021 at 16:51
  • I am quite confident about a particular reviewer who was probably contacted by PRL. I have even shown that his equations are incorrect! I guess, he is the one who rejected the manuscript without mentioning any reason. His group had contacted me a couple of times for collaboration which I had politely declined. I am afraid it did not go down well with him. Till date I have not understood why my paper was rejected when four out of five reviewers were in favor of the publication of the manuscript in PRL. Why such a bias? Bad luck? I wish to avoid that particular reviewer in my next submission.
    – Vikash
    Nov 6, 2021 at 17:07
  • The paper has finally been accepted today in the Journal of Power Sources, impact factor > 9. The suggestion to not include the PRL revision history in the cover letter to the new journal was a wise one.
    – Vikash
    Mar 12, 2022 at 14:59

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