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I have just had the revised version of a paper rejected from a well respected journal. However, one of the reviews is clearly a review of the original draft of the paper, rather than the revised version. I pointed this out to the editor, and his response was

Please revise your paper again, and submit it as a new paper, by mentioning your old paper ID number, together with replies to reviewers.

I don't see how I can reply to that review. How should I proceed?

  • 3
    As a side note: make sure that your hypothesis (the review is of the original manuscript) is not due to observational bias on your part. This happens more than we know, even if we try to account for it (Murphy’s law). Maybe you could ask a friend to read the review and give you an outsider’s opinion? – F'x Oct 13 '12 at 17:59
  • No, the evidence is objective and unequivocal (see my comment to your answer). – Dikran Marsupial Oct 13 '12 at 18:06
  • Concerning the "submit it as a new paper" part, I strongly recommand svpow.com/2012/10/03/… This is a bad practice aimed at making turnaround times better. It seems widespread, but still very unhealthy. – Benoît Kloeckner Oct 14 '12 at 12:33
  • Shocking example Benoit. The first version of my paper was submitted Nov 2011, so if I do resubmit, at best the apparent duration of the review process will be wrong by almost a whole year. What happens if someone else publishes the same idea during the "missing time"? – Dikran Marsupial Oct 14 '12 at 13:28
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Consider the pragmatic approach to this issue: you have already revised the paper according the reviewer’s suggestions, so only the response needs to be worked on. (Apart from other comments orthogonal to this main issue.)

Given that you already called the attention of the editor on the problem and he did not follow up on it, you clearly need to weigh carefully your response (unless you want to pick up a fight). I would suggest that you write a very detailed response letter, in which you explain how the manuscript addresses the reviewer's comments and questions. Do it point by point, quoting all the parts of your manuscript that are relevant (and locating them: page and line numbers).

Just do so by being slightly evasive about the exact evolution of the manuscript. Where you would normally say “we have added a paragraph at the end of section B”, just say “the revised manuscript includes a paragraph addressing the reviewer's question at the end of section B”. It's not untrue, though it is not perfectly clear.


Also, consider going for another journal. If you believe the editor has been treating somewhat badly, you might want to just let it drop and submit somewhere else. It's a complex decision.


Or, if you think it's worth it: make a stand for it. Appeal the editor's decision to the editor in chief, on the basis that a factual error was made. You need to be both strong and diplomatic in your appeal, and back it up heavily with facts. It will be easier if the incriminated review actually quotes some text that has changed in your revised manuscript, in which case the error is evident.

  • It was the EiC that responded, the action editor is anonymous. It is easy to show that the review was of the wrong manuscript as it points out an incorrect acronym, which I amended in the revised manuscript, and there is also a direct quote from the first draft that isn't in the second draft. Essentially I have already tried the third approach (and was diplomatic and gave the evidence with page and line numbers). – Dikran Marsupial Oct 13 '12 at 18:02

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