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I think the editor's generic decision letter will be about one page or less. However, I received an editor's decision letter that is longer than two pages, single-space, with small fonts and small margins. The character count is more than some typical referee's letters (is this usual?). The editor also says that he carefully read the paper, so I assume he invested a lot of time.

In this scenario, I appreciate his efforts in commenting on my paper, so I think it is good courtesy to express my gratitude to him and possibly ask him if he is willing to discuss more on this topic1. I am not sure if my reply will be considered normal or unusual.


1Just a short question on how to organize/further improve the paper.

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    I've never met a person who rejects a 'thank you' when I acknowledge their work. If was the editor, I would appreciate your email, especially if you mentioned the amount of time invested in drafting the letter. Jul 13, 2022 at 23:57
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    Gratitude, yes. Asking for more time… really depends on how you phrase it…
    – Dawn
    Jul 14, 2022 at 0:44
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    @Prof.SantaClaus just to be clear, mentioning the time the editor invested in drafting the letter.
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 14, 2022 at 8:26
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    If it really is just a short question, why not immediately ask that question instead of asking if he is willing to discuss more?
    – Sabine
    Jul 15, 2022 at 9:18
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    You can ask. I was rejected by a journal once by one of the editors and was able to have an email conversation with him where he talked about general advice on writing articles and how best to get the article published, it was eventually published in a journal.
    – Tom
    Jul 15, 2022 at 13:42

3 Answers 3

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It's fine to express gratitude with a brief thank you, calling out the specific thing you are thanking for (the time taken to write a detailed response), and mentioning the benefit to you (for example, that it will greatly improve your next submission).

If you include an ask for more of their time to discuss as part of your "thank you", it likely won't come across as a show of appreciation but rather as part of begging for something you want. If the thing you want to express is true gratitude, leave any additional requests out of it. It's not the editor's job to help you improve your paper - take what they've given you and use it. Consult with your colleagues and mentors about what to do with the paper if you need more advice.

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    I agree; it sounds like the editor went out of their way to be helpful, and probably already went as far out of their way as they were willing to go. They would not likely have held much back. Just fyi after your answer the OP added some clarification about what they're considering asking about.
    – uhoh
    Jul 14, 2022 at 4:27
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    Absolutely. The fact that the editor has been so detailed suggests to me that they have told you everything they feel they could say. To me, asking them to invest further time in you, by asking them more questions, seems very rude. Jul 14, 2022 at 19:22
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You are correct in assuming the editor's response is usually short. The fact that the editor clogged the space they had to provide you a feedback shows that they are willing to help and they went way farther than one would expect.

So a thank you is the minimum.

Regarding asking them additional feedback, the editor went already very far with such a dense feedback.

And the feedback is on a rejected paper. It looks like your paper needs a lot of work, given the rejection and the long response from the editor. Asking a short question on how to organize/further improve the paper is most likely useless, since this question is to be solved after carefully considering how to react to the rejection (resubmit here? change journal? do additional research?).

The editor showed they are willing to help a lot, so you may expect they will answer the short question. However, it would be a waste of time if you ask a short question. Even if they will feel the need of answering your short question, you will be wasting your and someone else time.

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  • You are definitely right. The editor already said whatever he has in the long letter.
    – High GPA
    Jul 15, 2022 at 3:55
  • @HighGPA one good rejection is worth ten easily accepted papers.
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 15, 2022 at 7:09
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    Hi Earl I'll take it as an encouragement for positive mindset? Or do you actually mean it
    – High GPA
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:13
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    A good rejection helps you in focusing on what is new and letting go whatever you thought was relevant but it turns out is not relevant to the research community. A good rejection sharpens your message and your goals.
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:58
1

Sometimes the polite thing to do is not necessarily the usual thing to do, or precisely not the usual thing to do.

Generally speaking, it is a classic scholar tradition of thanking for criticism not only because of politeness, but also because of how modern scientific institutions work: you acknowledge the value of your peers' input in your work and it being embedded in a greater system.

Going on a bit of a tangent here, but I personally always state my name when asking questions in an academic setting, sometimes even against the rules of a conference, as it stems from my belief that it is proper etiquette to by default let the person you ask questions to know who is asking them (at least in the context of formal setting). My point here is that you always operate on more than one level of etiquette: even if it's not defined in editor-author relationship, it is embedded in a broader system, hence nobody would accuse you of insanity if you thanked for it (which I personally strongly encourage).

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    Anyone might explain the downvote?
    – High GPA
    Jul 15, 2022 at 8:14

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