Several months ago I submitted an article to a journal with good reputation. Then I received two different reports. One was asking for minor revision. However, the second one overlooked at the content of the manuscript, and confused it with several previously known results. The editor, seeming the latter report, had to reject it (I would do the same in his position).

However, mistakes happen. The report of the second referee was completely wrong (from a math point of view, hence nothing subjective). I wrote a long reply to Editor's decision letter explaining point by point why the second referee was incorrect. This happened 1.5 months ago, I had a confirmation (from the editorial system) that the editor received the message, but I never received a reply.

Meanwhile, I just submitted it to another journal. But what should I do? Just ignore everything and go ahead? I mean, this is like getting a non-sense rejection..

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    It happens, sadly, all too often: A referee who is in a rush and does not read the paper beyond the abstract can easily misunderstand the content of the paper, or a referee who, for some reason, is biased against you personally or because you are using a technique that they find abhorrent (also happens), or a referee who got annoyed that their paper on the subject was not cited... I have seen it all as both an author and an editor. Rebuttal letters may help, but, most likely, not. I suggest moving on, unless, as Bryan Krause says, you can clearly identify and correct a cause of confusion. Dec 31, 2022 at 10:22
  • I didn't write it above, but I am almost sure I am in the last case of your list of cases. Anyway, moral of the story: the editor will ignore me (unless I know him) and I just have to move on. Well.. Dec 31, 2022 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


Generally, it's your responsibility to write a paper that your readers understand. If a reviewer gets it wrong, the editor doesn't necessarily need to feel that it's the reviewer's fault. Remember that the editor chose them as someone they felt had the expertise to review your paper - if they didn't get the point, then possibly the paper needs clarification.

Since you've submitted to another journal, I think you should probably write again to the previous editor a short message clarifying that you're submitting somewhere else, to avoid any accusations of dual submission, and then move on.

  • if you speaking about math results and someone tells that they are already known, then it is either correct or not. I spoke with several colleagues, the referee was simply wrong (and it was sufficiently clear from the text). Anyway this is not the point of the thread. The submission is officially closed 1.5 months ago, however it is probably a good idea to write a short message to the editor, thank you for the suggestion. Dec 31, 2022 at 1:57
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    @PaoloLeonetti The reviewer being wrong doesn't get your paper accepted, though. Can you change your paper to make it less likely that someone else will get it wrong? That may not mean improving the math in your paper, but rather improving how you contextualize your result with respect to previous work. If a reviewer is confusing your work with something already done, have you cited what was already done and explicitly stated how your work went past theirs?
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 31, 2022 at 2:52
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    @PaoloLeonetti What Bryan Krause is trying to say is this: The fact that the reviewer misread your paper is your fault, not the reviewer's or the editor's fault. Dec 31, 2022 at 3:32
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    @PaoloLeonetti References and explanatory paragraphs are part of the content of your paper. Hopefully those updates will help with the next reviewers.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 31, 2022 at 16:35
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    I personally found this answer pretty helpful. I recently had a paper returned with a rejection from 2 referees. My initial, and continuing, reaction had been, "These guys just stuck with their preconceptions and didn't properly read my paper". ... But you are right. They're busy; they're volunteers they have limited time ... and most importantly, it was my responsibility to engage them sufficiently, and right from the start so they didn't give up until they awere convinced by my argument. ... So, back to the paper to make extensive revisions! Jan 3, 2023 at 9:20

I think what you experienced happens to all authors, sooner or later. Unfortunately, in my experience, an editor will ignore such emails unless you are known to the editor. Move on.


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