I submitted an article in September 2016; after that, I got an invitation to submit at a conference. In January 2017, I got my first round of reviews. The first reviewer had "no comments" as his sole input and the second reviewer was very positive, so my submission is rated as "Minor corrections needed." Meanwhile, I graduated (March 2017).

In July 2017, I got my second round of reviews. The first reviewer “woke up” and shot down my article by vetoing it. Of the 12 points he mentioned:

• 5 were previously addressed in the first round of reviews.

• 4 asked for origin of data clearly labeled (i.e. references were already provided and clearly labeled)

• 2 were ad-hominem attacks.

• 1 highlights a lack of understanding of elementary principles.

(The second reviewer was positive and said that the modifications following the first round were acceptable.) It feels really, really unfair to be dismissed like this, on no scientific grounds, and I was not even given the chance to defend myself!

How is this even possible? How:

• Can an article go from "Minor corrections needed" to "resubmission required" without any checks?

• Can the first reviewer say nothing on the first round of reviews, only to come out with guns blazing?

• Can the editor let the borderline remarks pass?

• Can the editor not have a critical thought on this second round of review?

I’ve reached out several times to the editor and to the senior editor, and any of them won’t even answer my mails. I’m not in a position to resubmit the article myself in the immediate future as:

• I’ve started a (non-academic) full-time job.

• I don’t have access anymore to the computer framework to run additional simulations or refine existing ones.

My former advisor says that another student will rework it, but I will not be primary author anymore. As it will mostly remain the same (my work), I also see that as unfair. I have an amicable relationship with my former laboratory, but I will oppose the decision of removing me from primary authorship if the modifications are only cosmetic.

  • 4
    I'm not sure what the (major) question is. Perhaps "how can I still get this paper published"?
    – henning
    Sep 11, 2017 at 12:44
  • 3
    It is possible that reviewer #1 had confidential comments during the first round that were not at all positive, and still wasn't positive about the paper in the second round. Or it could be that he mixed up the "comments to editor" and "comments to author" fields, hence the first review had no comments.
    – Mark
    Sep 11, 2017 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


It's not clear that it's actually the same reviewer as before. Sometimes journals will bring in additional referees on a revised paper; I know that I have certainly been asked to do so on a few occasions.

That said, if your review was so biased as you state, then you should be able to write a convincing response to the criticisms made by the reviewer. Be firm but also polite—trading insults or being rude will get you nowhere.

Overall, though, it seems that the editor is not a very good one, and you may find more luck submitting to a different venue. (I also don't see why you have to be in an academic position to be the one to resubmit the paper!)

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