I sent a paper to a top tier journal in science a few weeks ago. I received the feedback from the editor saying he declined to publish/ accept my paper at the moment but if I corrected/ responded to the comments provided by reviewer, he/ she would consider to publish my paper.

I went to paper tracking website only to discover that my paper is classified as "reject and resubmit". Does that mean if I responded/ did everything suggested by reviewer, there'll be high possibility my paper will be outright rejected?

The comments from reviewer was not that harsh, but I wonder whether I'll be wasting my time if I went back to the lab and did what he said. I only have 2 months to respond.

Also, what is the difference between "reject and resubmit" and "major revision required"? This is my first submission and I'm confused.

Hope anyone can enlighten me.

  • 2
    Also see What does a “major revision” mean?
    – ff524
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 1:26
  • I have had this several times, with time and perseverance, we managed to get all of them to publication.
    – user41783
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 6:51

5 Answers 5


You are right that your paper may still be rejected, but you shouldn't worry too much. The fact that the editor proposed a resubmission suggests that he/she sees real value in it. As an editor, I can say that I would never waste time handling a submission again unless I thought there was a decent chance of acceptance.

Of course a decent chance is not 100%. Acceptance conditional on minor revisions means the editor is confident the revisions can be completed straightforwardly, while major revisions are always more of a gamble. They might just not work out in principle, or the authors might not be capable of pulling them off. However, they are worth a try.

Turning down an offer to resubmit is usually a mistake. It comes across as a sign of weakness, like you've decided your paper probably can't be fixed and you'd better just submit it somewhere less prestigious/demanding.

Also, what is the difference between "reject and resubmit" and "major revision required"?

Sometimes there's no difference at all: there are fields in which "reject and resubmit" is just what majors revisions are always called. Sometimes there's a difference, with reject and resubmit indicating a slightly less optimistic outlook (but still optimistic enough to be worth trying).

There are also borderline dishonest reasons some journals prefer reject and resubmit. Splitting a single submission into two submissions can make the journal look good in two different ways. Rejecting the initial submission decreases the journal's acceptance rate, which makes it look more selective. (A journal that accepts every submission after an R&R can claim it technically has an acceptance rate of 50% rather than 100%.) Furthermore, splitting the process in two decreases the average time from submission to a decision, which is another statistic authors care about.

  • 4
    The key, from an authors point of view, is whether you have been given a fixed date. If there is a fixed date to resubmit by, then it's effectively the same as a major revision. If there is no fixed date, then it's a rejection that welcomes a new submission when you've improved the paper.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 12:58

Each journal will have it's own fairly vague differences between different tiers of evaluation, but what the editor has described and "Reject and Resubmit" are exactly the same thing.

Essentially, your paper has been rejected ("declined to publish accept my paper") but there is the opportunity to revise your paper and resubmit it for consideration again ("...if I corrected/responded to the comments provided by the reviewer"). A paper that has been outright rejected doesn't get to have another go at the submission process.

Does that mean if I responded/ did everything suggested by reviewer, there'll be high possibility my paper will be outright rejected?

What that means is that the editor will consider it again - it's chances depend on many things, including the quality of your revisions.

Also, what is the difference between "reject and resubmit" and "major revision required"? This is my first submission and I'm confused.

It will very much depend on the journal. Both are, in rough terms, "This needs some work before we can consider it for publication", though the vagaries of what exactly that means will change.

For the record, refusing initial publication and inviting you for a second round after you've addressed the reviewer's comments is likely the standard trajectory for a paper to reach publication.

  • Thank you for your answer. My supervisor is also encouraging me to do all the things mentioned by reviewers.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 1:33

One other point I'd like to add to the above answers is that many journals these days prefer to give a Revise and Resubmit (R&R) over a Major Revisions decision, but both effectively mean the same thing. The fact that there is a deadline attached to the R&R is definitely an indication that the editor has seen some potential in your paper and wants to reconsider it after it has been revised. While your paper still might be rejected, it would definitely stand a better chance of being accepted by this journal than by a completely new journal. This is also because even for an R&R, there remains a possibility that the editor might send it to the same reviewers, in which case, your paper stands a good chance of acceptance, provided your revisions are satisfactory.


Also, what is the difference between "reject and resubmit" and "major revision required"? This is my first submission and I'm confused.

In addition to wonderful answers above: Another difference, which may impact you as an author, is the "submission date" as it will appear on your accepted paper. If a new finding is proposed by two (competing) groups, it may be difficult to see which group can claim the priority. In this case, the decision often is made based on the "submission date", and not the "final publication date", which may be more than a year later due to the time-demanding journal publication process.

  • For papers under Major Revision the final publication date is delayed by the revision and re-review process, but the submission date remains the same
  • For papers with the Reject and Resubmit status, the submission date will be the date of resubmission. Therefore, it will be more difficult to demonstrate the evidence of priority in this case.

While I agree with the other answers, that there's differences in how terms get used, I take it to be the case that (for the journals which make a distinction), the distinction is something as follows:

In terms of acceptance,

Reject and Resubmit (or revise and resubmit) (hereafter, R&R) = your article has been rejected.

Major revision = your article is in a kind of limbo state where it is neither accepted as is nor rejected but rather held unto the revisions come in.

In terms of reviewers,

R&R = you have no reason to expect the same reviewers. (You may or may not get them). The review will be de novo in principle.

Major revision = you will most likely have the same reviewers (It's not a perfect guarantee) who will decide whether your changes are sufficient to push it over the bar.

This of course contrasts with three other states I've seen:

  1. Accepted as-is (no more reviewing needed)
  2. Accepted subject to minor revisions (accepted pending minor changes they expect you will succeed in making).
  3. Outright rejection (don't bother working on it again).
  4. Outright rejection with the editor's suggestion to substantially revise and resubmit (de novo review and consideration).

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