So, I just received my manuscript back from a journal and the editor said that I should "make the moderate revisions necessary as outlined in the referee reports and then send back the final manuscript".

One of the referees gave grammar, structural and content advice, while the other one said he does not believe this manuscript expands the current body of knowledge.

These are vastly different reports and the editors wording makes it seem like the paper is "nearly finished". How should I handle the referee reports? Obviously, I will make the straight forward corrections that ref 1 asks for, but:

How should I respond to a referee who believes the content of a paper contains no expansion of the current scientific knowledge in a field?


Follow carefully the indications of the editors, and to the best of your ability try to follow the ones by the referees. Usually both agree and so there is no conflict. When there is, then the editor's opinion wins, as they are the ones with the power to decide whether your manuscript will be accepted or not. That being said, it is wise to not ignore the comments from the referees even if they seem to have been ignored by the editors. If the referee claims your work does not add anything new to the field, what would you answer? I would try to see it as a valid criticism and answer it the best I could. Think that this kind of question can come also in e.g. a conference! In that context what would you answer?

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    +1, especially for it is wise to not ignore the comments from the referees even if they seem to have been ignored by the editors – user21984 Oct 12 '14 at 3:47
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    To me the comment that your paper appears not to extend the current body of knowledge indicates that your contributions are not clear. Add a paragraph, or more, to explain explicitly what is that the article adds, and why it is worth readers' time. Carefully contrasting the proposed work with the related work that the readers' are familiars with helps as well. For example, X solves problem Y, but fails at Z. Out method extends the ideas from X to handle problem Z as well. – Orion Oct 12 '14 at 5:43
  • And always assume that the reviewers will read both your rebuttal letter and the revised manuscript, and that you will meet them at the next conference. – Orion Oct 12 '14 at 5:45
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    Thank you everyone, this has provided all provided a lot of clarity! – researcher1212 Oct 12 '14 at 7:45

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