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I am new to this forum and although I have found comparable questions (Can I submit the anonymous referee report from a previous submission to another journal together with my manuscript?), none seem directly related to my specific problem.

My field is medicine and I work as a clinician scientist at a hospital. Earlier this year, I submitted a manuscript to a Q1 journal. The article has been rejected - based on 3 reports from reviewers. One of the reviewers is easily identifiable. The field I work in is very small and because of that I am 99.9% sure who that person is.

We wish to resubmit this manuscript to another journal. We revised the manuscript based on the comments. However, said reviewer is part of the editorial board of the journal we want to submit to.

How would you proceed? Shall I include the comments from the previous reviewers or shall I refrain from choosing that journal?

My field is very small and the number of eligible journals is limited. Thank you for your advice!

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    Modify the paper according to the old review reports, then re-submit the article as a fresh new article ready to be understood on its own as a self-contained piece of work.
    – Tom
    Jul 20 at 10:22

4 Answers 4

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You don't know who the reviewer is, so don't assume you do.

Rejections from top journals (though, please, don't use this Q1/Q2 business... I work in medicine with a lot of clinician scientists, no one I've ever encountered in the real world says Q1/Q2/etc journal) are often less about their scientific merits and more about their overall impact. Ideally those decisions would be made at the desk stage, but often they are not, and the editor relies somewhat on the reviewers' opinions of the significance of the work in making their decision. Especially if the paper would need some work before it can be accepted, if it's not groundbreaking enough for the journal they just aren't going to take the time.

Even if an editor has seen your paper before, I'd expect them to make a judgment based on the current submission. If you've addressed their concerns, they should see it more favorably than they did before. If they decide to desk reject it, well, the turnaround time will be very short and you have little to lose by submitting it there.

It's not normal to include previous reviews with a submission, with the exception of systems that "transfer" a paper from one journal to another within the same publisher's purview. Don't include the previous reviews, regardless of who you guess the editor is or is not.

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    "You don't know who the reviewer is, so don't assume you do." <-- This. Nothing good can come off speculating who the reviewer may be. Jul 19 at 20:50
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Submit the paper as revised. Don't submit additional material that could (only) confuse things. Let the editorial and review process operate as usual on the current state of the paper. Its history is of much less importance than what you say and how you support it.

The editor may know some or all of the history as you indicate, but that is up to them. If they ask you for things, consider providing them, but don't make assumptions.

Let the paper be the paper.

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Some journals explicitly support Portable Review; you may resubmit to these journals using the reviews you received from a previous submission to another journal. For example: The Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease. See https://journals.sagepub.com/aims-scope/CJK where there is a detailed description of the policy (number 9 in the list of policies) and what it means.

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical researcher, but I am related to one who happens to be the editor of this journal.)

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Being from the biomedical/bioengineering side of things, IMO it would be best to resubmit the paper as a new submission after having made the constructive changes provided by reviewers from your previous submission. At the end of the day, (ideally) your work will be judged based on the data and your arguments, and the opinions of other reviewers from previous reviews should not influence the decision of the editorial board. Good luck!

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