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I submitted a manuscript to an Elsevier journal. I was given a major revision after a two-month review period. The comments from the two reviewers are positive and constructive. It took me a month to carefully revise the manuscript, but yesterday, my manucript was given the final decision "reject and resubmit".

The editor told me that reviewer #1 declined to review this time, so they assigned a third reviewer. While Reviewer #2 was satisfied with our revision, Reviewer #3 addressed many weird readability problems and was against publication. Since the journal only allows one major revision, my manuscript was given the R&R decision.

I strongly disagree with ALL comments from reviewer #3 because if I follow their suggestions in "increasing" the readability, my paper will become lengthy, redundant and less understandable to me. However, if I decline to address their comments, my manuscript will remain almost unchanged, because Reviewer #2 only gives very minor comments. In this case, what should I do if I still want my manuscript to be published in the same journal?

  1. Is is possible for me to contest the "reject and resubmission" decision, or request the editor to re-invite Reviewer #1 for another round of review? I just really do not understand why they were positive to my manuscript but refused to review after revision.

  2. Is it possible for me to resubmit a minor-revised manuscript with a rebuttal letter which declines almost ALL comments from Reviewer #3?

  3. If 2 is possible and the manuscript is sent to Reviewer #3, they will highly likely reject it again. Hence, is it possible to oppose reviewer #3 for reviewing upon resubmission? (The journal allows authors to oppose specific reviewers, but obviously I cannot identify reviewer #3 simply because the reviewing process is single-blinded).

If all above are impossible, I would like to resubmit my manuscript to another journal with lower level.

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  • I think you are asking the wrong question; it's your paper and you can do whatever you want with it. It seems like what you really want to know is what are the likely outcomes of the various approaches. But this is probably at least somewhat discipline specific. Nov 15, 2023 at 1:03

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Is is possible for me to contest the "reject and resubmission" decision, or request the editor to re-invite Reviewer #1 for another round of review? I just really do not understand why they were positive to my manuscript but refused to review after revision.

Many journals have an appeal process for decisions. You could follow that process. If there's no listed appeal process on the journal's website, replying to whoever sent you the decision should work.

"Request the editor to re-invite Reviewer #1" however would be overdoing it. It's kind of pointless - if they were already positive on your manuscript before revision, then they are probably still positive on your manuscript after revision, and one does not need to re-invite them to know that. The R&R decision is not based on Reviewer #1's review, and getting them to review the revision will not change that decision.

As for why they might not review the revision: the most probable reason is that they don't have time (grant application deadline coming up, end-of-year exams to grade, they are on holiday, etc.).

Is it possible for me to resubmit a minor-revised manuscript with a rebuttal letter which declines almost ALL comments from reviewer #3?

You could, but there's no need to take the trouble of filling out the EMS submission form again; you can/should just use the appeal process.

If 2 is possible and the manuscript is sent to reviewer #3, they will highly likely reject it again. Hence, is it possible to oppose reviewer #3 for reviewing upon resubmission? (The journal allows authors to oppose specific reviewers, but obviously I cannot identify reviewer #3 simply because the reviewing process is single-blinded).

I imagine most editors will want to know what reviewer #3 thinks of your rebuttal, so this is not a good idea. But you could certainly write "We address this in a confidential note to the editor" in the response-to-reviewer box, if there is one, and then write a confidential letter to the editor explaining why you think reviewer #3's review is bad.

By the way it's worth pointing out that authors can easily be biased into thinking that their paper is more readable/comprehensible than it actually is. You might want to get a second opinion (from a colleague/co-author) on the paper's readability. See also this question.

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