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Prof L

Ah, there could be a way to do it. Like "As I glance at the other referee's report, I notice that I left something out of mine which that other referee focuses on, i.e. engagement with the literature. I hope it is alright to send a belated assessment of that aspect of the paper ..." That way, it's not a referee-battle or interference, so much as additional information about your view of the paper, well within the scope of your role as referee.

I'm not clear on the status of the paper here. Is it currently undergoing R&R? (In which case, just let it be, wait for the revision). Has the editor not made a decision yet? (like the other report just came in? If so, maybe the above would be fine.)

Douglas W. Portmore

Usually, those journals that share the reports with reviewers do so only after the final decision has been made. If that's right, I don't see the point of contacting the editor after they already made their decision. If the editor hasn't made their decision, though, I think that it would be helpful to the editor to know that you disagree with the other reviewer about whether the paper does a decent job of engaging with the relevant literature. Although as an editor, I read the paper and base my decision on my own reading of the paper as well as the reports of the reviewers, I often just have to rely on the expert referees to tell me whether the paper is sufficiently engaged with the relevant literature.


"Usually, those journals that share the reports with reviewers do so only after the final decision has been made." I know that, for the Journal of Happiness Studies, I have seen the other referee's report after an R and R decision was made by the editor(s), but prior to any revised version of the paper being written or submitted. So intervening could still have an effect in such a case, in that it could affect how the revised version of the paper goes. And perhaps other journals also operate like this.

Not that I am advocating that the OP intervene and try to correct the other referee. In fact, I am opposed to that. Having an opinion on the literature and how properly to cover it is not a super-straightforward factual matter (it's not like "2 + 2 = 4" or "It's not raining where I am right now"). Don't get me wrong: the OP may well have the correct view here and the other ref may well have an incorrect view here. But it's not a super-straightforward matter, and it doesn't seem to me to be the kind of thing where intervention is appropriate.


I have seen other reviewer reports at an "Revise and Resubmit" stage. So I think it can happen, though in my experience it is rare.

I imagine that there's simply no point to intervening. Most editors side with reviewers over authors since they are fewer (willing) reviewers than (willing) authors. One reviewer disagreeing with another reviewer won't change that fact. So I imagine intervening wouldn't actually change the relevant editor's mind.


OP here. First, thanks for all the replies. I will say that in this particular case I think the paper was mostly just OK, so I don't think it being rejected would be terrible. What struck me as problematic is the superficial referee report the other referee submitted. I decided to do nothing. There are other journals and I think the paper can be improved regardless of the citation complaint.
I will say that I very much appreciate being exposed to other reviews after I submit mine. Except for this single case, usually I see thoughtful reviews and they often help me think about things that I missed or haven't paid enough attention to as a reviewer. I think reading other reviewer comments when I also acted as a reviewer has helped me become a better reviewer.

the quiet professional

Meh...I wouldn't worry about it.

There's a reason why there are two referees, and many editors - at least ones I've worked with - are pretty good at determining which reviews are too superficial to be useful. If this is a pattern with the particular referee, word will get around.

The situation OP describes sounds exactly like a report I once got on a paper that was rejected - rejection on the basis of a failure to cite two things, neither of which I felt were particularly relevant to my argument. The paper wasn't terribly amazing, so I was not too sad about the rejection.

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