When Publishing Gets Tough: Letter From A Frustrated Author

If scientific writing is an art, replying to a reviewer can be your masterpiece.

And this is what frustration can do to you: A letter from a frustrated author to a journal paper. The amusement is guaranteed (I laughed so much I had tears in my eyes!).

Want to share with us your stories on publishing? Please do so, and leave a comment below.

22 thoughts on “When Publishing Gets Tough: Letter From A Frustrated Author

  1. Mutashi

    Recently one person shared with me that his paper was rejected by an editor. The comment was simple – “plagiarism”. No evidence on review but how! The author replied that his work was at all not a plagiarism. He requested for evidence. The young editor didn’t reply. When contacted over tel. Dr. editor got very angry. When asked if there is any evidence, the learned editor become furious. Humbly, the author said, “my paper was checked by turning before submission and there was not problem”. Mr. Editor didn’t reply. Incidentally both author and editor are from the same country of origin and the journal is published from a developed country. Is there any conflict of interest?

    1. Marialuisa Aliotta Post author

      That’s very sad and it shouldn’t have happened. I wonder whether there might have been some personal/professional issues between author and editor. Maybe, as you say, a conflict of interest.

  2. Rahul

    Dear Professor,

    I have a query. I recently got an article for review from “xyz” journal. I gave my comments to the journal. At the end of the manuscript, I had mentioned a few references which the authors needed to add to their manuscript. When I checked the journal website after 1 week to see what happened to the decision, I saw my comments. All comments were the same. However, all references I had given were replaced by those of the editor (his research work). I was pretty astonished. Is this a routine procedure for journals? Can the comments a reviewer give be edited? If yes, then what is the point of the review system?

    1. Marialuisa Aliotta Post author

      Dear Rahul,

      I am equally astonished. It is the first time I hear of something like this and I would agree with you, it should not happen. Editors normally have the final say on whether a manuscript should be accepted or not based on the comments of the reviewers, but other than that they should remain impartial. It appears this is not always the case. Hope you have a better experience with the next editor who receives your comments. Good luck!

      1. Rahul

        Dear Professor,

        Thank you for your motivating reply. I was pretty depressed after what had happened. I was so depressed that I was thinking is this the way science goes??? I got really motivated by your comment. However, all is not lost. I am never going to take the paper for review from the editor of “xyz” journal ever again. Thank you for you kind reply.

        Thanking You,

        Yours Faithfully,


  3. Rahul Shahane

    We submitted MS to Analytical Chemistry (ACS). When the review came, we could see it reviewed by two reviewers. One wrote reject it as it has no novelty. Other told accept it after changes. Editor wrote to us “Please ignore the comments of the first reviewer and make changes as your MS is very much interesting”

    We sent the revision.

    The editor of Anal. Chem. sent it back to the 2 same reviewers.

    First reviewer told MS to be rejected.

    2nd told authors have done all corrections which he suggested so it is acceptable.

    Final Verdict: Editor rejected stating MS did not have advances as compared to modern state-of-art articles. Hahahaah….

    Was extremely sad and angry after this decision….first he told dont consider 1st reviewer’s comments and in after first revision he tells 1st reviewer is correct…is this sane???

      1. Rahul Shahane

        Yeh Maam, we wrote a letter stating that at first he told we should neglect the comments of the first reviewer. He then told us that it was his mistake what he wrote about the first reviewer’s comments (of not considering them)…he told infact after a “deep thinking” he came to a conclusion that he canno accept the manuscript. This is still paining me (my same article got accepted in another journal, but still I am feeling the pain after 6 months of this wierd rejection)….thnx for the reply maam….

  4. Pingback: When Publishing Gets Tough: Letter From A Frustrated Author « Academic Life | Roberts Lab

  5. Aakaash

    This is a master piece that reflects many PhD students’ feelings. Recently we submitted a paper on Distributed systems (and title itself says that) and a reviewer rejected the paper saying no significant contribution on “CENTRALIZED” systems. Though the other two reviewers said Accept with Minor Changes, the editor decided REJECT. We could only feel pity about the so called leading journal for having such an intelligent and knowledgeable editor.

    1. Marialuisa Aliotta Post author

      This is very frustrating indeed! I think you could (should?) have asked for your manuscript to be reviewed by someone else. Sometimes editors are willing to consider the opinion of additional reviews on contentious matters. But I agree, this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Good luck with you next publication! 🙂

      1. Aakaash

        Indeed we wrote an email to the editor politely explaining how that reviewer’s feedbacks are irrelavant to our work. But, we didn’t receive any reply (may be he is busy).

  6. Beth Gazley

    I hope my neighbor (yup, three blocks over) Mr. Glass felt better after this cathartic act. He certainly brightened my day.

    1. Marialuisa Aliotta Post author

      Hi Beth, I am very glad Mr Glass decided to publish the letter. Judging by the number of hits on this post, it appears he has brightened the day of many of us 🙂 Greetings to him when you next meet him. Have a nice day.

  7. mimcmahon

    My favourite referee reply is attributed to Dr Samuel Johnson. ” Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” I must try and use this myself sometime.

  8. Trent Lewin

    Oh my gosh, I almost cried too. I have written journal papers before and I feel this person’s frustration, only I never had the nerve to write something back like this. I hope they got published on the strength of this note! And glad to see that there is actually some humour in academia!


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