I have a question that's somewhat related to the topic of resubmitting rejected manuscripts without making changes. A little background: I'm a recent grad. I've had around 5 reviews for a couple of different papers (including one R&R and rejections for the other submissions). Every single time I've only had one referee report. You can imagine that only having one report complicates the question of whether to do revisions before resubmitting. Referees can be so divergent I find myself very hesitant to make changes based on only one report--unless the criticisms happen to strike me as significant and obviously correct.
In response, Amanda wrote (my emphasis):
I think it could be any of those things. The possibilities, in order of my estimated likelihood:
1.The report you got was the first of two reviewers to turn it in. Because one rejection is enough for total rejection, there was no need to wait on the second report...
I've gotten a few revise-and-resubmit verdicts based on one positive report and one negative report--cases where a journal editor seemed to side with the positive reviewer over the negative reviewer. However, I've heard a lot people (including I think some journal editors) say what Amanda says: that, all too often, editors may reject a manuscript based on only one report. While I sort of understand why this can occur (good journals have high standards for acceptance, and receive far more manuscripts than they can publish), I also find it a bit puzzling - and for a few reasons.
First, as we all know--both from the peer-review process and philosophical discussion more generally--different readers can judge the same piece very differently. Indeed, philosophers are often quite split on the value of a given piece of work. I reviewed a paper a while back and found out after the fact that one reviewer recommended rejection, another revise-and-resubmit, and a third outright acceptance with no revisions! Given how differently different people can judge the same piece, isn't it a bit premature to judge a submission on the basis of a single review?
Second, there appear to be a lot of false negatives in our current peer-review process: very influential papers that were rejected by multiple venues before being published. While I understand the desire of journals to avoid false positives (i.e. inadvertently publishing bad pieces), isn't there also a danger in tilting the process too far in that direction? If excellent papers that go onto enjoy wide discussion and esteem are routinely rejected by multiple journals, doesn't that suggest that editorial processes might be weighted too far in the direction of avoiding false positives?
Finally, on the same note, one might think (as I'm inclined to think) that with creative works in general--in art, science, and philosophy--polarizing works are actually more likely to generate substantial discussion and influence than less polarizing works. For example, the film Blade Runner received mixed reviews when it first appeared--yet is now widely regarded a masterpiece. Initial reaction to Darwin's Origin of Species was also notoriously hostile. Led Zeppelin's first album was met with stinging criticism - yet it too is now regarded as a masterpiece. The same kind of thing occurs in philosophy too. Frege is said to have thought so little of Wittgenstein's Tractatus that, in all of their correspondence, there is no evidence that Frege read past the first page!
Given that most philosophy articles are never cited, what could be better than publishing articles likely to divide readers? Those who love a given piece are likely to respond to it, but so are those who are critical of it: a good recipe, I think, for generating more active and lively debate!