I reviewed a manuscript for a journal from a well-known publisher.

I received

A gentle reminder that we sent you an invitation on ... to review the revised version of the following paper

I responded with

Please allow 18 days. My partner just had emergency surgery.

The journal said

We are truly sorry that we would cancel the revised invitation.

Then 93 minutes later, the same editor at the same journal sent me

We kindly invite you to review this paper and evaluate its suitability for publication

for a different paper.

What is the professional way to respond?

  • 4
    Their first response doesn't sound like a native English speaker. Is there a communication problem?
    – Buffy
    Aug 28, 2022 at 18:20
  • 7
    Journals in my field ask for a reply on a web interface. There is always the option to decline without reason or with a standard "too busy" reason. Is that not the case in your field? I believe you are dealing with a semi-automated process here and you shouldn't treat it as a conversation with the editor.
    – user9482
    Aug 29, 2022 at 5:25
  • 2
    It is possible that the journal uses an automated review management system and the request was sent out automatically rather than by the editor. Aug 29, 2022 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


If you can assume, perhaps over generously, that this was an inadvertent mistake, then you can just say "For personal/professional reasons, I can't accept any requests until Oct 1 (or whenever)".

People make mistakes.

Best wishes to your partner.


I'd respond just like I would for any paper I'm not in a situation to review -- "I'm sorry, but I'm not available to review this manuscript at this time." There's no reason to call attention to the editor's faux pas.

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