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After the third round review of my paper, I receive the following letter from the editor of physical review journal (not PRL)

The above manuscript has been reviewed by one of our referees. Comments from the report appear below for your consideration.

When you resubmit your manuscript, please include a summary of the changes made and a brief response to all recommendations and criticisms.

Yours sincerely,

It seems to be different from the ordinary editor letter I used to receive, which tells me that revisions are necessary:

The above manuscript has been reviewed by one of our referees. Comments from the report appear below.

These comments suggest that the present version of the manuscript is not suitable for publication in the Physical Review. However, if you can provide a convincing response to the criticism, we will give further consideration. Please accompany any resubmittal by a summary of the changes made and a brief response to all recommendations and criticisms.

Yours sincerely,

We are puzzled by the first letter from the editor, because the editor does not tell us whether revisions are necessary or not. What is his attitude? What does the first letter from the editor mean? Is it a major revision or a minor revision or a rejection (because it is already the third round of review)?

Edit: The report from the referee is simple, it only asks about one of our figures because of some confusion from the referee's side. From our perspective that can be easily fixed. But we are quite worried because from our understanding, 3 rounds of review in APS is maximum and paper are either rejected or accepted after 3 rounds of review. Has anyone ever encountered more than 3 rounds of review when submitting to APS journal?

And I understand that both of the letters are just templates. But I assume that different templates correspond to different scenarios. So I would really appreciate help from any one probably familiar with the APS journals.(For example, you have submitted articles to APS journals and received both kinds of editor's response)

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    I think you greatly overestimate the amount of thought the editor put into this. Jun 25 at 17:14

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It does not really matter whether it is major or minor revision. You are required to revise your paper, respond to reviewers, and reviewers will have another pass at your paper. Anything can happen. They may recommend reject your paper because they finally 'understood' your paper after clarifications or they noticed a new error. They could recommend acceptance.

Alternatively, the editor could invite new reviewers. I wouldn't read too much into the letter. It looks to be a standard reply template.

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  • Are you sure that there will be another round of review, I mean for physical review journal, I heard that 3 rounds of review is already maximum. But I am not sure whether there are exceptions
    – Tan Tixuan
    Jun 25 at 11:11
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    @TanTixuan - even if just the editor looks at it, it will be ‘reviewed’. And since the editor is asking you to revise and send back, they aren’t going to turn around and reject it.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 25 at 14:43
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Literally, the comments are "for your consideration". If you respond adequately to all concerns without any edits then you may be fine, depending on what those comments say and your response. But, I'd guess that at least some revisions will be necessary since it wasn't immediately accepted.

"Adequate revision" is probably a better description than either "minor" or "major".

I'd treat the response from the editor as encouraging, but seriously consider every reviewer comment.

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