How do journal editors deal with mixed review reports on submitted work?
In the peer-reviewing process, many times the feedback is mixed and I guess this must cost the editors some headaches. I wonder how does an editor deal with this in the case when no major flaws to the submitted work have been pointed out. Half of the reviewers give it a thumbs up whilst the other half give ti a thumbs down.
One of my manuscripts received revisions from 5 reviewers and fortunately, the sixth reviewer had not responded. The five reviews were mixed with the majority (3 vs 2) requesting major revisions. I believe that the academic editor opted for 05 reviews as he would have considered that manuscript is original enough to potentially publishable, thus allowing the author to defend his/her manuscript against the majority of negative reviewer comments.
In general, however, the reviewer number is around two (or uncommonly three or four). The surplus reviewers at the initial stages of review are mainly in cases of mixed reviews I feel.
I agree with Alan - and know personally from my own editorial duties. It is a common-sense approach. A mixed review generally highlights that a manuscript submission has both strengths and weaknesses. As to whether an article of this 'quality' is accepted, or not, often depends of the quantity and quality of existing 'back-copy', originality and topicality of findings etc.
If there is no plagiarism, the English is good, and there is significance relevance to the main focus of the journal, I would allow revision. If I feel that the referees will not be able to provide a definitive answer as to whether or not to publish, I will add another referee or two to the subsequent round. I do take into greater consideration the reviews of senior referees who have not been recommended by the authors.
If two peer-reviews are not coherent, at least one of them is "publish with minor revisions", paper meets main focus and requirements of the journal then third peer-review may be necessary to avoid mistake. As an alternative further peer-review may be provided after revision by the author(s).
I was lead author on a co-written article that was reviewed by 2 people who had diametrically opposed views- one considered it the greatest thing since sliced bread (this is a American expression that means absolutely fantastically great) and the other one thought it was the worse piece of garbage he had ever had the misfortune to waste his time reading. The editor advised me of this controversy and sent the paper to a third reviewer who said it seemed ok to him. The paper was published.
After the paper was published, it became seen as a valuable contribution to program evaluation, with the results widely cited as a standard reference in the field and the research approach as an inspiration for further development of macro level approaches.
Which proves you never know how people will respond.
Normal practice is to send typically to three reviewers. If one reviewer rejects while the other two accept the paper with/without revision, the chief editor will have the option of sending it to another reviewer, or use his judgement based on the comments of the rejected reviewer to proceed with the publication. In general a third reviewer is used.
In the case of two opposite opinions a third opinion has to be sought. The editor him/her-self may take up the task if confident with the subject, otherwise will resort to a third referee. Just as simple as that.
I feel if the article was already reviewed once and a major revision is recommended and author has resubmitted the article with corrections, then also if there is conflict among reviewers then editor should further recommend revisions at there level, instead of sending to third reviewer and increasing the further complications.
Yes they tend to bring headaches but if the first two reviewers have a two factor cognitive thinking i.e confidence and believe then the third one can not have an interlectual defeat to call off the proposal of publishing the article
I feel the editor is the person who finally decides on the stat of the manuscript, if the reviews are non decidable , then if, he is expert in that topic can review himself or may send to one more reviewer , and the best out these reviewers to decide on giving an decision on that particular menuscript .
I am aware of a case for a top journal that invited 8 reviewers for a manuscript, there were 3 accepts, 1 reject, 1minor review, 3 major reviews. Is the decision easier with a higher number of reviewers or does it further complicate things?
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