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For a manuscript we were having under review, a new reviewer was invited in the second round because another reviewer dropped out.

The new reviewer proposed some new changes, including ones regarding writing style rather than science. For example, they suggested that hypotheses development should happen in the literature review or separate sections. We gave our reasons and cited some articles that review literature and discuss the hypothesis in the same section. The reviewer didn’t agree and for the third revision, they only had this concern. We still didn’t want to make these changes, as that we felt we would have to rewrite the paper. More important, the suggestions had too much personal perspectives inside. So we argued with more evidence. It was all about writing style instead of science.

We submitted a third revision. Note that the other reviewers recommended accepting the paper at this point.

We also wrote an email to the editor in chief as we don’t know who the associate editor was. The editor in chief said she will review everything, and make a decision. But just today, we got email saying the article was rejected and it just said, that the reviewers only provide private comments to editor and against accepting. I just feel so upset with the editor.

Shall I appeal or move on to the next journal?

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    If the editor in chief has already looked at it, to whom are you going to appeal? Is it the whole board? Jun 15, 2023 at 20:24
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    "Shall I appeal" You already did, you just don't like the outcome of your appeal. Jun 15, 2023 at 22:08
  • Just so I get this right: You appealed to the editor in chief while submitting a third revision, i.e., before a decision was made on your paper in the ongoing review process?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 3, 2023 at 10:32

3 Answers 3

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The editor made her decision, using information she has. She is not bound by the fact that some reviewers seem to have recommended acceptance. Move on.

Before you resubmit elsewhere, try to read the referee's critical comments with an open mind. They may suggest changes that will in fact improve the paper.

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Let her go, friend. Sometimes journals say no for silly reasons but it is still a no. If you are displeased with how your paper was handled, do not submit to this journal again.

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We give our reasons and cite some articles that discuss LR and Hypothesis in the same section

(PS: one assumes that the bulk of articles you cited are from journal A)

Personally, I don't like being put down on semantics of paper style, however, at times, reviewers comments are indicators that we are not communicating well enough.
So writing in explicit mode with (lay reader) clarity is an art we perfect each time.

Should literature review and hypothesis be in the same section, that I can't comment on as we are not privy to your manuscript, (nor to your field/discipline).
Can it be, it's possible. Can LR and hypothesis be split, yes they can. In this instance, we can't say.

I just feel so upset with the editor. Shall I appeal or move it on. B journal

Simply put, relax, keep calm and re-read with open mind.

After a week or even a month, print and re-read your manuscript again. After that, likewise, re-read the reviewers comments with open mind. Then take another look at your manuscript.
Do all of this away from your desk/computer.

It might be the reviewer is off-tangent. It might be the reviewer is pedantic. It might be the reviewer got it all wrong. Yet, it might be there're golden nuggets in the comments that might yield invaluable benefits to the manuscript.
It might be, just maybe, you're not communicating well enough. At times, we oft get lost in the authors mind mode. We see what we're writing but we don't see what we're not communicating.

So calm down, read again.

Should you appeal, my understanding is that you engagement with the EiC is the appeal. If you feel otherwise, there's no harm in writing a formal appeal and await the outcome: Be calm, professional and scientific about it. (No emotions)

Should you move the manuscript on to paper B.
After the calming down process (as outlined), improve the manuscript and resubmit.
Rejections are fabric we all wear with pride as academia. Obviously, some review process (and some reviewers) can be bad experience. We shake 'em off and move on with purpose.

[Edit]

"we argued with more evidence*

Most of this evidence effort should also reflect in the manuscript (and not only in the appeal/rebuttal). I'm just indicating (for future readers), just in case it doesn't

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