We've spent many months and have come to the end of our tether with a referee. He doesn't seem to care about the science in our paper at all, but just about the minutiae of the data analysis method, even though we've shown they work ok and are standard procedures. He seems to be on a single-person crusade to push his ideas on the community. In addition his reports are extremely long, poorly structured and written in a stream-of-consciousness style. We've made our best arguments, but he just won't accept them. Unfortunately the editor hasn't stepped in, so we're going to ask for a new referee.

He's named himself in his report. He's not exactly a big name. I've asked colleagues and have discovered that they had similar problems with him as a referee!

Is there an appropriate action to minimize his destructive behaviour on the community? I plan to always ask for him not to be a refeee when submitting a paper and never suggesting him as a referee.

1 Answer 1


It is the responsibility of the editor to not select him, and they are negligent in that respect. You are perfectly entitled to go ahead with requesting a more fair and even-minded referee (which is your right), as you "do not see how this referee's requests possibly can be satisfied, no matter how much work you invest".

Asking for him not to referee you and not selecting him as a referee is, of course, perfectly in your right.

Beyond that, there's not much more you can do from your side, and it is not your job to ostracise that person, even if you think they should be. Unless they threaten to take over a community (e.g. by being elected in a position of responsibility or similar), or you are responsible for hiring them into your department, my view is that you should let them be. Others may find reasons to appreciate their service, as hard as it may be to believe.

  • Asking for him not to referee you [...] is, of course, perfectly in your right. True, you have the right to ask. But the editor makes the ultimate decision on who will referee the paper, and how to act on the reports. If the editor considers your request and decides that the referee is just fine, you do not have any recourse, except to withdraw your paper (or wait for rejection) and submit somewhere else. May 27, 2017 at 19:09

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