I refereed a manuscript and recommended a major revision. Now, almost three years (!) later, the manuscript has come back to my desk. The editor told me to treat it as a revision and not as a new submission. However, since I don't remember the details, I'm re-reading the entire manuscript.
I'm noticing things that I consider need to be improved. That includes things that were identical three years ago, but that neither me nor the other referees commented on. There could be several reasons why I didn't comment on it the first time:
- I had less knowledge and experience than I have now, or
- the field has moved on since it's been so long, or
- I simply didn't notice something I noticed now.
Is it fair to comment on it now, or did I lose my chance to suggest this improvement when I didn't suggest it in the first round?
On the one hand: I genuinely believe this needs to be improved.
On the other hand: if I were submitting a revised manuscript, I would not expect referees to comment on things they should have commented on the first time. If nobody comments on a particular paragraph, I would assume all approve.