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« What to do with rejected 'reply' papers? | Main | Latin American Philosophy for the Non-Specialist: A Word of Encouragement »



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Overseas Tenured

Your paper is on topic X. I don't know much about X, but it's vaguely adjacent to my specialty Y, so I guess I'll just review it. Anyways, X looks like a stupid topic to me, it would have been better to write on Y. I never heard of the argument you're addressing in section 2, I suppose it's not worth hearing of. Alright, I'm bored. Here are some objections I remember from an intro-level book on X that I read 20 years ago, hopefully the author will find them helpful. Reject.

Stateside Tenured

Your paper argues (i) that thesis P, despite being weird and previously undiscussed, is free of any forceful philosophical reasons for doubting that it is possibly true, and (ii) that if P is possibly true then widely influential thesis Q is false. But I don't get why we should care about a paper on P, since P is weird and no one has defended it. Also, Q is only widely influential among those who got their PhD after 2002. Reject.

Richard Y Chappell

Your paper is on what theory X can say about problem Y. But you fail to address unrelated objection Z that many people have to theory X. Reject.

Stateside Untenured

For the historians out there:

Your paper argues that Historical Philosopher P believes X. But you do not consider the wide variety of unnamed, uncited, non-existent places where P says not-X. Reject.


It seems to be common ground amongst the people you're engaging with that X is a phenomenon worth writing about. But I hadn't heard of X until reading this manuscript! Does X even really exist? Is it possible to adequately define X? Reject.


In my first referee report, I asked you to clarify a couple of things. Now that you have done this, I can see more clearly that your paper deserves rejection.


My recommendation is that the paper be rejected. This isn't a bad paper, but in my judgement isn't up to the usual standards of journal X.


You clearly and cogently refute some views of prominent philosophers. But those views are dumb. I already thought they were false. Reject.

Daniel Weltman

This paper fails to cite some relevant works published in the time between when the author sent the manuscript to the journal and when the journal got around to sending it to me (or perhaps the journal sent it to me a while ago and I neglected to review it until now). Reject.

Timmy J

(I work in logic)

You used a computer to help with a tedious part. Reject.

The Sucker

Here are several subtle points that may be helpful to your paper, or may be minor criticisms that you can easily address. These points are subtle enough that you now know that I am an expert on this topic who knows this literature very well. Now that you know this, consider this completely nonsensical objection to your paper that no expert on this topic could ever take seriously. Me and you both know that it's rubbish and that it's confusion could be decisively demonstrated in a couple of sentences. But the editors are unfamiliar with this topic don't realise this. Thus, they will accept it when I offer it as my reason for rejection. You've been trolled sucker!


You establish your conclusion by way of methodology X. While X is the standard methodology for approaching the issue, I think X is misguided. Reject.


Another for the historians (not mine but one a friend ran into a bunch of times with one paper):

Sure you find a bunch of overlooked places where Locke himself clearly says that X and not Y despite the fact Y is the currently trendy reading of Locke and X has been dismissed out of hand. But clearly this is wrong because A, B, C articles in the secondary literature you are challenging assert Y and dismiss X. Reject.

another postdoc

Reviewer: Excellent paper - by all means accept!
Editor: Reject.

Reviewer: I don't have any philosophical complaints about this paper. However, I use how much has been published on a topic as a measure for how interesting the topic is. Not much has been published on this topic yet. So this paper isn't interesting enough to be published. But a word of encouragement to the author: perhaps other people will publish on the topic and your paper will thereby become worthy of publication!

Reviewer: I'm of course aware that this journal has a strict word limit and that the paper is currently right at that limit. Still, I'd like the paper more if it raised and replied to variations of objections it already considers. R&R. Oh, and here's a list of ten obscure works that could be cited. The author might be wondering which of the works on the list are by yours truly and whether my evaluation of the revised manuscript will be sensitive to whether it cites those works. These questions are best passed over in silence. Maybe the author can just cite everything on the list if they're worried about this? Best of luck respecting the word limit!

Reviewer: Your argument is subject to two objections. While I am writing this report after not having looked at the paper for weeks, as far as I can tell these are objections that I came up with on my own and there is no way to reply to them. We can safely assume that I did not learn of these objections by reading them, along with the detailed replies to them, in the paper's objections and replies section. Reject.


Reviewer #1: This paper is amazing and fantastic and I wish I'd been wearing diapers when I read it, cuz I pooped my pants. Accept as is!

Reviewer #2: This paper is boring and I don't like the topic. Reject.

Editor: Um, ok. R&R.

Sebastian Lutz

You argue that premise 1 of previously published argument X is false. But I say that premise 2 of argument X is also false, and therefore your result is irrelevant. Reject.

Variant: You argue that premise 1 of previously published argument X is false. But I say that premise 2 of argument X is also false, and because you do not discuss premise 2 you think it is true. Therefore you are wrong. Reject.

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