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One of our recent submission has been suggested to be revised by a journal (CS). However, we could not at first believe that we have to address the comments or points raised by 11 reviewers plus the editor's comments. The comments are very diverse and conflicting.

Is it quite difficult to address all the comments and satisfy all the reviewers. Everyone is a human being, even us.

How and why should a paper be reviewed by so many reviewers? Now we are not in a situation to withdraw the paper and probably it is quite difficult to address all the comments because of computational issues.

For the how question, I have this possible answer: Yes, the editor might have sent reviewer invitation to more than required number of reviewers; and to the surprise, all accepted it.

  • I would read and re-read the editors comments to find a hint on why there have been so many reviews. – skymningen Nov 24 '16 at 8:52
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    So, you got more useful feedback than usual. Great! Start with ranking the reviews according to how detailed and useful they appear to you. Then make a list of conflicting comments and decide for yourself with which side you agree. Nobody expects you to fully satisfy all reviewers. I'd expect that at most three of them will see your revised manuscript. And there is a chance that you can identify at least some of them based on the quality of their review. – Roland Nov 24 '16 at 8:57
  • If this happened to me, I'd assume there is a problem with the journal, or the editor. This looks a lot like a weird attempt of the journal to "improve" its review process by simply adding more reviewers. If you really want to publish there, it's better to do as the answer suggest. If publishing there is not that important, withdrawing the paper is a solution. The question is, how to prevent such an abuse from a journal. – user21264 Nov 24 '16 at 9:09
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    I removed the "revision" tag that was newly created for this question because it's ambiguous and highly likely to be misused (for one thing, "revision" has another meaning entirely in UK English). Unnecessary proliferation of highly specific tags, ambiguous tags with multiple meanings, and tags that are very similar to existing tags, make it harder for other users to use tags - so please don't create a tag unless you're 100% sure about it, and ask first on Academia Meta if you're not. – ff524 Nov 24 '16 at 9:37
  • Is your question really what the title says, or something else? If you want to ask what to do, ask it clearly, and edit your title accordingly. If you really want to know about "how and why" this could happen, please strongly emphasize that this is your question. – Benoît Kloeckner Nov 24 '16 at 14:55
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11 reviewers seems excessive to me too, but that is the situation you are in now so you need to find a way to deal with it. My starting point would be that it is the editor that makes the final decision not the reviewers, so it is her or him you need to convince not all 11 reviewers. Sometimes the editor gives hints one what (s)he thinks the main comments are. In that case you know what to focus on.

If that is not the case you just have to make reasonable decisions and justify them. So if there are conflicting comments you need to show that you have taken them seriously and made a reasonable choice on how to handle that. If all the suggestions are too much, i.e. it would result in a book rather than a article, then the editor (and the reviewers) can see that as well. Just mention that and justify the choices you make.

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(Answering the question about how papers end up with this many reviewers.)

Take a look at this question. If the answer is correct, then there were 11 reviewers invited of which one has submitted. However, the invitations to the remaining ten reviewers are still outstanding. They haven't been uninvited - it's a hassle to do, not to mention potentially a problem since there are reviewers who finish their reviews before accepting the invitation. There's literally nothing stopping the remaining 10 reviewers from suddenly agreeing to review the paper followed by submitting a review. If that actually happens, then the editor can scarcely tell them that they should stop writing their reviews. Result: 11 reviewers.

Having said that, it's extremely unlikely this happens. I've certainly never seen more than ~5 reviews for a paper. I would guess that the editor handling your paper was new or was dealing with a strict deadline, and was paranoid about the paper not being reviewed on time.

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