[This looks like something that might have been asked already, but I have not found a question like this on this site.]
I recently had a paper rejected with resubmission from a top Bayesian Statistics journal. This was not a surprise. My main reason for submitting to the journal was to obtain feedback, which I did obtain. I received two reasonably detailed reviews, one more detailed than the other (the longer a bit over 3 pages), as well as a very short and somewhat cryptic (one short para) comment from the Associate (Area?) Editor. Also, these reviews were delivered very fast, which was good. I submitted the manuscript on 27th of April, and it was rejected on the 3rd of June.
The general tone of the reviews is captured by the EIC's one line summary
Your paper has been read by an AE and two referees. They have all found the topic interesting but with several major flaws in the methodology and implementation
Now, some points in these reviews are unclear. Would it be reasonable to write to the editor asking for feedback on those points from the referees? Perhaps something along the lines of
Is this what you meant? If so, the answer is this. If not, can you clarify, please?
or maybe just
I don't understand what you mean here, can you elaborate?
Assuming the message is forwarded and the referee replies, I suppose there could conceivably end up being a bit of a back and forth with the reviewers via the editors.
On previous occasions I have not tried doing this, but I have come to believe there is no sense in being too shy in such matters. If you want information, ask for it.
However, I wonder if this is considered unorthodox, improper or inappropriate procedure. It is relevant to note that I am not an expert in Bayesian methods. However, the editors and referees apparently thought my paper worth the trouble of reviewing in detail. Regardless, my lack of experience/expertise may hamper me in understanding the finer points of what is expected in the field.
I will of course do my due diligence in trying to understand the content/purport of the comments, but I don't see the point of my spending hours trying to guess what is meant when the referees could (hopefully) clarify the point in a few minutes.
So, to summarize, the upsides are:
If I get a response, my eventual fixes will be better and more targeted
I don't waste a lot of time trying to guess what someone meant. Maybe it was even based on a miunderstanding
The downsides are:
The reviewers/editors will not want to be bothered with responding to me. This will be especially true if this is not considered normal procedure
They might be annoyed by my (possible) cluelessness in the area.
If I don't ask for any clarifications, then I will just end up making my best guess as to what the referee means. I don't think that the results would be as good as if I was to get clarifications.