I just received the reviews of a paper I submitted. The paper was reviewed by three anonymous reviewers, two of the reviews provided valuable insight suggestions and comments. However, the third reviewer just copied text from the paper. Should I care about what the third reviewer did?

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    In the body of the question it says "just copied", in the title it says "basically a copy and paste". Can you say a little about what was copied, and what was novel? It might help get a sense of what exactly has happened here.
    – Ian_Fin
    Aug 16, 2016 at 15:19
  • @Ian_Fin The reviewer copied text from my paper and submitted the copied text as his review. I am not sure what is not clear in my question?
    – The Hiary
    Aug 16, 2016 at 15:24
  • The definition of basically is that something includes most essential respects. Most implies not all. By saying "is basically a copy and paste" in your title, rather than "is a copy and paste" implies that there's something more to their review than just what was copied. It appears that the review was of a low standard, but knowing what that something more is would give an indication of quite how low it was
    – Ian_Fin
    Aug 16, 2016 at 15:36
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    Did the 3rd reviewer also add any comments at all, or not? Aug 16, 2016 at 15:57
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    @Blaisorblade No he did not.
    – The Hiary
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


As you've described it, this sounds rather odd. Reviewers are under no obligation to accept a paper to review, so to accept one and then submit what sounds from your description like a complete cop-out is strange behaviour. It's also a bit odd for the editor to send you completely uninformative comments. It's possible that they genuinely did write a review, but that the text has been copied mistakenly, either by the reviewer or by the editor. It might therefore be worth sending a brief email to the editor to enquire about this review. Something along the lines of: "Thank you for consideration of our paper. In the copy that I received one of the reviews does not contain any comments, only text from our paper. I just wanted to double-check that the correct version has been sent through, in order to make sure that I can respond effectively to all of the reviewers." Be very polite, and make sure you phrase it as a request for clarification, rather than a complaint.

If it turns out it was their genuine review, you are of course allowed to care - it's a bit frustrating if one of the reviewers has not fulfilled their role properly. But it's not a big deal, and there's not much that you can or should do about it. Some journals only get comments from two reviewers anyway, so just think of it that way and ignore the third.

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    +1 for 'tactfully ask, indicating it's probably a mistake'. People do do absentmindedly silly things - I once sent an entirely different paper (by someone else from the same journal!) instead of my responses to comments... Aug 16, 2016 at 20:25

Why should you care? One function of a referee's report is to explain to the editor what the paper is about.

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