I submitted an article to a certain top IEEE transaction journal, and after a year and a half of peer review, it was finally rejected. During this period, we got a chance to make minor revision.The paper was then sent to two new reviewers. One of the new reviewers made several rounds of incorrect comments. In the latest revised version, I clearly addressed his error issues. However, he deliberately claimed that he could not understand it and said that my notation was problematic. As a result, the paper was rejected.

  • How do you know the reviewer deliberately 'could not understand it'? In general, as a reviewer, I want to be able to extract the key ideas in the first read. An important aspect of writing a paper is to write in a manner even a 'non-expert' can walk away with the key ideas. Similarly, when you write the responses to reviews, you have to explain your reasonings like to a 10 year old. It is possible that you wrote the paper to be understood by you only. A reviewer is likely to reject a paper that he/she doesn't understand, just to be on the safe side. Apr 9, 2023 at 20:51
  • You are so right, I totally agree. We have answered and explained the reviewer's questions in detail in the current version of the appeal, hoping to get a good result.
    – zhang yuan
    Apr 10, 2023 at 1:34

2 Answers 2


No, it is very unlikely to succeed unless you do major modifications, addressing the concerns of the reviewer(s). Even then, resubmission after rejection may be impossible.

Most important, however is to try to address the reasons why you weren't understood. Was your notation non-standard, for example? And if so, was it completely and clearly explained in the target language.

What you write here seems like two people talking past one another having different backgrounds and/or assumptions. You need to address that if you want success. It isn't up to them (and future readers) to try to understand you if you are insufficiently clear.

Your words "deliberately" and "unreasonably" worry me. Complaining to editors of unfairness or claiming the reviewers are idiots will get you exactly nowhere.

Even for another journal, you may have a lot of work to do. In the long term, high standards are to your benefit as well as that of the world of scholarship.

  • Thanks. The response letter to the reviewer’ comments and the revised manuscript have been sent to the reviewer. I believe that I have adequately addressed the concerns raised by the Reviewer and made significant improvements to the manuscript. I will carefully consider what you suggest.
    – zhang yuan
    Apr 9, 2023 at 12:41

Do not continue to re-submit to the journal that rejected your paper. Try another journal.

  • But the reviewers did not understand our method, which can be explained. Regarding the erroneous conclusions he mentioned, we all have theories and experiments to prove that our arguments are correct. We are not happy that such articles are unreasonably rejected. At present, an appeal has been applied, and the journal is processing it, but I don't know the probability of success.
    – zhang yuan
    Apr 9, 2023 at 11:47
  • 5
    @zhangyuan It's your job when writing a paper to explain your method, so when a reviewer doesn't understand it this is seen by the editor (who will have chosen reviewers they expect to be able to understand papers in the same general area) as a fault with the paper, not the reviewer.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 9, 2023 at 14:21
  • Thanks.I totally agree with your point of view. We have provided detailed instructions and explanations for what the reviewers did not understand, and hope to get a good result.
    – zhang yuan
    Apr 10, 2023 at 9:56

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