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I recently received comments from the reviewers on my research paper. In my paper I look at the impact of X on Y and find that X negatively affects Y. One reviewer has commented that while my findings are interesting, they are uncomfortable with the idea because of existing literature that has found Y negatively affects X. In my literature review I have briefly discussed the literature on Y->X before moving on to the literature on X->Y (which is my focus). However, I am unable to understand how to respond to their comment that they are uncomfortable with my finding as a strand of literature has discussed a contrasting position.

Would appreciate any help. I'm in Economics, if it matters.

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    What do you think is the reason the other paper found the opposite effect? Is your effect Rock solid in the sense you want to put out your head to challenge current wisdom, or is it just 'meh, a little'.
    – lalala
    Dec 28 '21 at 18:07
  • But there's not actually any contradiction between those two propositions. If both are true at once, that's an example of a positive feedback loop, which I'd expect to be very common in Economics. Dec 28 '21 at 19:23
  • Are you using a correlation to infer causation?
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 28 '21 at 21:03
  • @Daniel Hatton yes you are right. there is a feedback loop and some studies have looked at similar feedback loops but in different contexts.
    – Jan3
    Dec 30 '21 at 17:47
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The general rule when you get (somewhat negative) comments from a reviewer is to examine them carefully to see if they can help you clarify what you have to say. They may have found an error or infelicity in your paper that you want discovered now, not after publication. No one likes to be criticized - put those feelings aside and think about whether the comments are correct.

In this case perhaps you should expand your discussion to make clear why the effect of Y on X does not matter in your argument.

If you don't think there is a need for that, just tell the editor why when you respond with corrections.

The essential point is to think of all comments as constructive criticism.

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  • this makes sense. I will try to elaborate on what you suggested
    – Jan3
    Dec 30 '21 at 17:48
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The comment isn't necessarily negative. If two variables are linked in some way then treating either as the independent variable is likely to show correlation with the other.

But the question arises as to why you chose the one, rather than the other. It might be worth a few paragraphs added to your paper to make that clear and justify it.

And it might be worth a short addition to point to the other paper(s) and briefly explain the situation.

So, it might be worth treating it as an opportunity rather than a problem.

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  • Thanks for your suggestion. I would have to dig deep into why i chose this particular aspect
    – Jan3
    Dec 30 '21 at 17:57

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