This is an issue I have run into multiple times as a reviewer on a paper. During a manuscript review I pointed out several areas of concern. Some of these are methodological issues but in other cases these are grammar issues that are easy to fix. When the first round of revision comes back none of the suggested changes have been made to the manuscript. All of the grammar mistakes are still there.

Notably, the lack of change is not because the authors disagree with the suggestions and provide rebuttals in their 'responses to reviewers' document. Instead, the revised manuscript acts like the authors had never seen my review. They respond to the other two reviewers in their responses to reviewers section, but there are no comments addressing any of the concerns I raise, even the minor, easily addressable ones like the grammar issues.

Reaching out to the editors about this situation, I asked if it's possible that my annotated draft of the manuscript and/or reviewer report potentially did not reach the authors. However, the editors said the review report and documents had been sent to the authors.

Is this a common issue in academic review? I have had this happen while reviewing articles by two different research groups (both of which are relatively prominent in my field) for two different journals handled by two different publishers within the last five years. However, I have never heard of this being an issue before. The best solution I can think of is just send it back to the editor and say the authors did not address my concerns in the previous round of review. But it seems very strange to have happened more than once.


3 Answers 3


This isn't common, but it's not that rare either. You might see it like once every six months to a year as an editor (this is an estimate; I did not keep count). One way this can happen is if your review is late. The journal sends the author a decision first with the other reviewers' reviews, then you submit your review -> the authors aren't aware your review exist.

If it looks like the authors have not seen or forgot about your review, then I'd return a major revision recommendation and leave the rest to the editor(s) of the journal. Recommending rejection seems a bit harsh to me given it could be an honest mistake, although practically speaking there might be no difference since the editor is likely to send the manuscript for a second revision.

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    I think this is what it was. In both cases my reviews were not late, but they were submitted towards the end of the deadline. This is likely what happened. Commented Jan 30 at 3:22
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    Yes, if the authors have genuinely engaged with the other reviewers' points and not even mentioned yours it seems almost certain that they have missed your review entirely, whether because of their own carelessness or the editor's. They should be given another chance to respond. Commented Jan 30 at 10:34

Failure to respond to points raised -> Reject

Proper practice for responding to referee reviews of a paper is to go through point-by-point and respond to each item raised in a systematic manner (see related answer here). Ideally, the author should directly copy-and-paste the entire referee review and then respond to each point as it is raised. (When I do this, I usually give the referee remarks in one colour and then my response in another colour, so it is easy to see exactly what the referee said and then my response to this.) This method ensures that no points are missed and there is a clear response (agree, disagree, revised, no revision, etc.) to each point raised by the referee.

In my experience, no, it is not common for authors to fail to respond to points raised by referees. Academics usually proceed systematically through referee suggestions and train their research students to do the same. In some cases a single point might get accidentally missed (e.g., if it was raised by the editor outside of the referee reports) but it would be unusual to have multiple points where there has been no response/revision. The occurrence of this outcome reflects sloppy revision practice and it is unusual in professional settings.

If you are a referee and this has not been done, and there are significant points (or multiple small points) raised in your review that were not addressed, you should immediately give a one-line rejection of the revised paper: Author has failed to respond to previous points raised in review, so we recommend rejection of this paper. Give this back to the editor immediately and let them contact the author to reject/re-write. If referees were to do this en masse than it would lead to a rapid improvement in the quality of responses.


Yeah, this does happen. A funny variant is when they correct it or remove the material only where you pointed it out and left the other mistakes. E.g.: you say that there are many mistakes in this paper with the units, e.g. in section 5. You get the revision back with Section 5 removed, but in the remainder the authors still don't know how to make units tally.

I feel your pain - pointing out the same issues again and again makes you look like an obsessive sourpuss, the frequent complainer who is soon ignored. For that reason I think it is best to leave it at "the issues I pointed out previously have not been addressed."

But there is often something off about these things, where the editor seems prepared to give these authors endless second chances. I don't know about you, but there have been times when I felt implicitly bullied by the editor to accept the paper, as if to say: This zombie will keep darkening your inbox until you recommend we accept.

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