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07/01/2021

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a referee and one time editor

Please do not just send your paper out again, without making any revisions in light of the reports from the journal that rejected it. That is abusive. People have spent time on your paper. Respond appropriately. I have seen papers a second time at different journals and I get so angry when I see no changes have been made. Indeed, I now almost always decline to review a paper for a second journal.
Also, do not argue with the editor. The editor, you can assume, has given it some thought. They do not need the extra time of arguing back and forth with you. The compensation editors receive is not a lot. It really is service to the profession.

Andrew

1. Personally, I always revise it at least somewhat even when I get mean and frustrated reviews, because even if the reviewer is a jerk, it doesn't mean that there's nothing I can gain from reducing the knee-jerk reaction at least some fraction of the my potential audience has...

2. That being said, this is why you need to have multiple papers you're working on at all times so that you can return to it at a less burned moment.

3. Don't argue with an editor about this. It's a waste of time.

Michel

This is absolutely common. At most journals, a single negative verdict, or verdict of major revisions, is enough to reject your paper. In my experience, two verdicts of minor revisions typically result in an R&R, as does one acceptance and one set of minor revisions. But it's hard.

IMO, on the job market, your goal is to get interviews. Every interview is a win (even if interviews alone are not enough). Similarly, in publishing, your goal is a verdict of R&R (from the referees): that shows your paper is working, and gives you some idea of how to give it a better chance at the next journal. Every time a referee recommends revisions, minor or major, that's a win (even if such recommendations alone are not enough).

Your paper got two positive verdicts. It'll get there in the end, with time and a little more attention!

Assistant Professor

Note that Marcus gives slightly different advice than "a referee and one time editor" which just shows the variability of peer review attitudes, approaches, and expectations.

My own advice would be to read and think about whatever review comments you receive, and then decide whether you think they are relevant/helpful. If so, make some edits (they might be minor) before re-sending. But I wouldn't go as far as say as the first commenter does that not revising based on reviewer comments is "abusive" (maybe it is offensive to the reviewer who spent time on the review, though).

I have at times received comments that show that the reviewer did not read my work carefully, or merely disagrees with me, and their comments are not particularly productive. I have also received directly opposite comments from two reviewers - suggesting that neither are particularly helpful if they give contradictory notes. There are at times good reasons to not make changes based on reviewer feedback, all things considered.

That all said, even if a reader grossly misunderstands my work, that is informative, and might mean I need to make parts of my paper clearer even if I am not adopting the notes from the reviewer, as much as reacting to them.

Cmon

I just want to point out that calling sending out a paper without making revisions "abusive" is an absurd inflation of language. Reasonable people can disagree over whether a paper needs changes.

anon

I second what Cmon says. Sometimes referee comments are badly done, and authors should ignore those comments. And yes, it requires some good judgment to figure out when this is what's happened. But it's very misleading to say that whenever you do this you're being "abusive".

Postdoc

At the risk of beating a dead horse: just let it go.

Recall that many, if not most journal rejections are frustrating, bordering on infuriating. Remember that the cause of this is the fact that journals have many more genuinely good submissions than they can accept, and referee reports aren't a perfect indicator of paper quality. Remember that you'll have to deal with this editor many times throughout the years. Remember that there are many more journals where you can try your luck. Then take a few days to cool off and you'll feel better.

Anonymous Grad

I'd like to add a different suggestion:

Maybe have someone else you trust who knows the area have a look at the reviewer comments and tell you what they think. It is hard to be objective about the quality of ones own work (in both directions: sometimes we can't see the flaws and sometimes we too many flaws) and having someone else look over the comments might help you to better sort out which ones are reasonable and need to be worked on and which don't.

There seems to be a tendency to dismiss reviewer's comments very easily in online discussions of this kind of issue. But I think you should apply the principle of charity and assume that the reviewers were trying to do a good job. One reason is simply that you aren't more likely to get diligent reviewers next time; if you actually want to get your work published you have to make it so clear that even the laziest reviewer won't misunderstand. If you assume that all reviewers are trying to do a good job and revise in that spirit it seems to me that you will do better in the long time (and, perhaps, feel less bitter about it).

Newly tenured

I've had numerous papers rejected after the referee(s) suggested minor revisions or RnRs - which is of course the prerogative of the editors, although understandably frustrating to the authors.

Fwiw, while I almost always revise my paper (at least somewhat) in light of negative referee reports, I sometimes refrain from doing so on the rare occasion that (a) I think addressing the comments would make the paper worse; and (b) wouldn't satisfy the referee anyway. Sometimes the referee just wouldn't like any version of the paper you want to write, and that's okay - but if so, bending over backwards to satisfy them seems pretty pointless.

Tim

My recommendation: rage for a day (or two if you must). The editor sucks; the reviewer(s) sucks; the system sucks. Yes. It is known. Don't bother fighting with the editor. Its a waste of your time and his/hers. It is not going to change anything.

Then send the paper out the next day. You can look at reviewer comments, if you want. But reviewer comments at one journal are very poor predictors of reviewer comments at the next. So you could make revisions (making the paper longer, and perhaps, worse) on the basis of reviewer comments (from a journal who has already rejected the paper). But its smarter to wait for an Revise-and-Resubmit verdict from a different journal to start making revisions for a journal that might yet accept it.

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