I have just received a decision letter for my submitted manuscript to an Elsevier journal. It was a revise and resubmit (R&R). Two reviewers comments were included in the decision letter. One of the reviewers suggested minor revisions. The other reviewer on the other hand recommended rejection and his comments were really unfair. Evidently, he hasn't bothered reading the manuscript completely. I am really disappointed and don't really know how to even respond to his comments. what do you recommend me to do? I am really frustrated.

  • 2
    If the reviewer recommends rejection, then they may indeed not read the entire article. As an author, you have to write in a way that hooks the reviewers, as well as you can. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 21:42
  • There was something later in the paper that the reviewer didn't see? (I guess that is why you say he didn't read the paper completely.) Something important? Maybe it should be mentioned in the abstract.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:02
  • I some times do not finish reading a paper. Usually it is because there are so many things wrong with the paper that I gave up. For examples, false claims, poor English, the authors show lack of knowledge, poor methodology, problem is old and not interesting, lack of motivation, etc. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 4:31

5 Answers 5


Most journal articles are often a revise and resubmit before they get published.The final article that you see in journals is often never the first submission attempt but rather, crafted through continuous revising and editing.

You should revise and resubmit, you would be doing yourself a disfavour if you don't.

The editors had two very contrasting reviewers for your piece, one who suggested a minor revision and the other an outward reject, so a Revise and Resubmit is a pretty good outcome from that, but also highlights a stark contrast of views.

When you receive harsh comments, it's good to take a step back for a few days and let the anger and frustration that you undoubtedly feel to disappear. At the moment you might feel like it's a bit of a personal attack, and have used language such as 'it's unfair' and 'he hasn't read the article completely.' These are emotional responses and are not helpful for your success.

Why are the comments unfair and how can you determine whether they've read the article completely?

When you are ready, sit down and read them with fresh eyes, highlighting what you can do to improve the article. There will be things in there (difficult to find) that you can utilise to strengthen the quality of your article. You don't have to address everything the second reviewer says but you might be surprised that once those personal feelings die down, the number of things you might find helpful from that second reviewer.

When you do your revision, you'll need to prepare a summary report regarding all the comments, highlighting what you changed, and what you didn't. The things you do not change you provide justification for in your summary report.

You would be surprised by the number of academics who never bother to revise and resubmit a paper to a journal, the numbers are outstanding. Revising and resubmitting allows for you to continue to improve your ideas and produce something of high quality.


one of the reviewers suggested minor revisions. The other reviewer on the other hand recommended a rejection and his comments were really unfair.

Welcome to peer review. Yes, it sucks to have a reviewer criticise your work so much, especially if you feel the comments are unfair. However, both, the editor and the other reviewer seem to give the manuscript a chance. You cannot throw your work away as soon as somebody disagrees with it.

As a sidenote, try to get a bit perspective and figure out why the second reviewer hated the paper so much, without thinking that (s)he is just an idiot. The reviewer didn't bother to read the paper to the end? Yes, that's bad form, but clearly your paper wasn't exactly compellingly written either. The reviewer didn't "get" the paper at all? Maybe your descriptions are not that great. The reviewer thinks your contribution isn't strong enough? Explain better how your paper improves the state of the art. Oftentimes, the most negative comments are the ones that help you most in improving your research, even if they are clearly the ones that hurt the most.

Should i revise and resubmit?



Yes, you should revise and resubmit, if you still want the article to be published in the journal you originally targeted.

Evidently, he hasn't bothered reading the article completely.

This may be true, but once you've waited a day or two and digested the comments, look at it again. This kind of review might highlight that some readers of the journal would not understand your paper properly! Even if you think the comments are unfair, be sure to include them in your response. Treat them thoroughly, with evidence from your article and the literature, or include supplementary material with the response letter. Then, ask a co-author or trusted colleague to read over the revised article and response, to check the tone. Good luck!


First, remember reviewer's "verdicts" are only recommendations. The handling editor evaluate these reviews along with your original submission to see what is a fair balance. Deviating reviews are not uncommon. Editors have two solutions at their hands, either, as in your case, make a decision based on the two, or to add a third reviewer to the mix. The former will likely happen if the editor has good insights into the topic, the latter if the editor may require more input to feel safe with a decision. After all, the editor is chosen to have broad knowledge but will not master everything.

So, you have received a revision decision which means the manuscript is very likely accepted if you provide a good set of revisions and a good account of how you have treated the comments from the reviewers. A "bad" review, can emerge from a nebulously written manuscript so if you think the comments are unfair or even rude. Take them with a grain of salt and focus on whether or not they emerge from some misunderstanding or unclear writing and revise accordingly. The editor should have given you some pointers on how to view the reviews but this does not always happen, You are then left to your self to handle the revisions. Important is to not dismiss any of the reviewers just because they disagree or criticize your work. You need to consider their comments and provide a rebuttal to the editor so that any grounds for disagreement is firmly described.

So carefully revise the paper, provide a detailed and polite letter outlining your actions, make sure the revision fulfils all the journal's instructions for formatting and resubmit on time.


I would revise and resubmit. Not only that, I would implement as many of the harsh reviewer's comments as feasible and truly warranted. At least it will show that you are taking the journal and its personnel seriously. Remember, only one of the two said "reject". Show a good faith effort to satisfy both of the reviewers. Keep up the effort my friend!

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