After a few months of wait, I received a brief response from a high-ranked physics journal regarding my manuscript: "The [Referee's] comments suggest that the present manuscript is not suitable for publication in XYZ", without further info, and the status of my submission changed to "With Author(s)". In addition, the Referee Report explains why s/he "do(es) not find this paper, in its present form, acceptable for publication in XYZ", and offers a number of pretty constructive and specific suggestions towards an improved version.

The Editor did NOT specify that I may resubmit, nor give me a timeline. What are your thoughts on this matter? I agree with all Referee's assessments and have indeed prepared a revised version in anticipation. Obviously I should resubmit. But a few questions:

  1. Does my submission remain active so that I can resubmit?
  2. Will it go to the same Referee or will it be treated as an brand-new submission/Referee?
  3. I am not affiliated with any academic institution; this info was made clear in my first manuscript submission. How will that be handled and what consequences could it incur?

Thank you very much for your help!

5 Answers 5


From your description, it looks like one of APS's journals.

  1. As far as I know, this is often not a hard rejection. A rejection from those journals often sounds like 'we conclude that ... not suitable... close the process...'; and instead of 'With authors', it could become 'Not under active consideration' (no such status as 'Rejected'). But it depends on how many rounds you've been through. If it is only after the first round of review, pretty sure you can resubmit. If there are already two rounds, the chance gets lower but the tone still sounds not that bad.
  2. You should definitely use resubmit instead of a new submission. Whether it will go to the same referees depends on their availability (no one knows) and whether you try hard to avoid them when you communicate with the editor (not your case, I guess). Usually people are willing to review again if not too busy. So in your case, it is quite probable it will still go to them.
  3. Not much to handle as far as I know. And from your description, there seems not any noticeable prejudice you might be afraid of.
  • Thank you xiaohuamao for your detailed answers. Please see my reply to Bobgom too. I got outright rejections before but they went by the explicit line "We regret that..." (again, exactly same down to every letter each time). To your question, my current manuscript is first-round. Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 0:55
  • Another question: when I resubmit, besides the revised (latex) manuscript, how should I provide my point-by-point response to the Referee (by way of addressing the Editor)? Should it be in a separate pdf file (so that I can put in some equations) or must it be in plain text? Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 1:30
  • @HoangNguyen Not necessarily in plain text. It can be anything.
    – xiaohuamao
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 5:27

If the status is "with author" as opposed to "rejected", then it's a revise decision. Make your changes and submit it through the system. Yes it is probable that the original reviewers will check your revised paper. Not being affiliated with any academic institution should have no effect (in theory - in practice there might be subconscious bias).

Do not start a new submission; that only leads to an administrative hassle.

  • 1
    +1, not (just) for agreeing with me ;) but for your last sentence.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:43

Contrary to the answer of tschwarz, I wouldn't treat this as a reject, but only a "major revision". It was tagged as "with author" after all.

You have a lot of work to do to make it acceptable, of course, and it is good that the reviewers gave you constructive advice.

The lack of a deadline is not material for most journal publications as future issues will require future papers. If yo can produce a good paper, it might be accepted and scheduled for some future issue.

A rejection would be clear. Don't make assumptions.

Whether it goes to the same reviewer or not is up to the editor, but it is fairly likely to go to at least one of them - perhaps the one who made the most extensive comments.

Lack of affiliation isn't an issue for a reputable journal. Scholarship isn't a private club with secret handshakes. The paper is what is important.

  • That would be my interpretation of the missing deadline as well: "It needs too much revisions to make it to the next issue anyway, so take as much time as you need and we'll fit you in an issue whenever the paper is ready"
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 11:04

Unfortunately, this is a rejection letter. You need to find another outlet for your work. If you resubmit to the same journal, they will probably send it to the same editor who might just do a "desk-reject", meaning that it will be rejected without being refereed. It could also be rejected by an administrator.

Please be aware that the editorial process is not free of errors. Without reading the referee reports and your paper, it is not possible for us to decide whether this is one of these cases.

Not being affiliated with a university or other research agency will prejudice your paper, just because people without affiliation lack the support structure that such a position brings (e.g. colleagues who can read through a paper or with whom research can be discussed) and are less likely to meet the high standards for publication in a reputable journal. This is not how it ought to be, but editors are human beings and acquire certain "gut reactions" that might be wrong in a specific case.

  • tschwarz, thank you. Here is why I am puzzled... I got rejections before from the same journal; in those cases, Editor was specific: "We regret that in view of these [Referee's] comments we cannot accept the paper for publication in the ...". In this current case, Editor did NOT say that. [2 yrs ago, Editor deemed another manuscript of mine in "present form not acceptable" followed by a detailed Referee Report which explained his/her concerns. I failed to act after that because I thought it was a rejection.] Yes, I sent my draft to senior folks who do not know me; 3 of them replied positively Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:13
  • 6
    I think this is wrong in nearly all aspects. A reject will be clear. Don't make assumptions. Lack of affiliation is not prejudiced, though papers by amateurs are often poor.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:16
  • 1
    @HoangNguyen I agree with tschwarz that this sounds like a politely-worded rejection. I would not expect always the exact same form letter rejecting your paper. If you want, you could write briefly to the editor a question like: "Would the (journal) consider a revised version of the manuscript that addresses all the attached referee comments?" but most likely you will be submitting it elsewhere.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:17
  • 1
    @BryanKrause, what is the point of a "politely worded" but unclear rejection? I would think that a high ranked scientific journal would be very (very) explicit if it saw no value in what the OP has written. I actually find it a bit encouraging for the OP that they bother to provide extensive advice and move it back to "with author" status. If they hate it they will tell you to "go away". "Not ready for prime time" is the message I get, nothing worse.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:36
  • 2
    @Buffy Perhaps you are right. In my experience, journals who will let you resubmit are also very clear about that and the next steps to take, e.g., "this manuscript is not accepted in its current form, you can submit a revised manuscript by (link/directions to their submission software)". I assumed that in the case of a lack of clarity it's more likely their politeness has overtaken their clarity, but as you say, that could be wrong.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:39

It sounds like this is one of the Physical Review journals, and the 'present manuscript is not suitable' message is one of their standard editorial responses that roughly corresponds to major revisions (although sometimes the required revisions are not so major). In my experience you can resubmit with a suitable response and the editor will likely send it out for review again to the same reviewers (if they are still willing to review). The fact that the status is ‘With Authors' rather than 'No longer under active consideration' also indicates they will likely consider a revised version.


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