The next step
It is important to realize that the journal editor makes the decisions about rejection or revision and final acceptance. Some journals may treat reviewers like referees, and send a manuscript to two reviewers and then to a third in a tie-breaker situation. One reviewer may be asked to focus on only one angle, while the editor moderates.
But the advice from the reviewers about acceptance or rejection can always be overridden by the editor. He or she might see the value of requesting revisions to improve the paper and will override the reviewer’s advice of rejection. Or perhaps the editor knows that articles have been recently published on the same topic, and overrides the reviewer’s advice of acceptance.
If the journal editor asks you to revise your manuscript, you will have three options. Your choice will reflect the extent of revisions requested by the journal editor, whether you disagree with their decision, and how urgently you wish to publish.
- Revise your manuscript and resubmit to the same journal. If the requested revisions are easy to do and you agree with the reviewers’ comments, you may decide to make the suggested revisions and resubmit to the same journal. Even if you disagree with the reviewers’ opinions and think that their requests are unreasonable, it is often best to explain your reasoning to the journal editor in a response letter.
- Submit to a new journal without revising your manuscript. If you think that a delay in publication will allow a competitor to publish first and it is not possible for the editors to speed up the review process, this might be the best approach. You may also choose to do this if the editor informs you that your work is not a good match for the journal aims but there are no major criticisms from the reviewers, or the editor rejects your manuscript without review after you have responded to the first rejection.
- Revise your manuscript and submit to a new journal. If you agree with the suggested revisions but feel that after completing them your work will be better suited to another journal, or your manuscript is rejected again after you have responded to all reviewer comments, you should consider revising and reformatting it and then submitting it to a different journal.
In the last two cases, it is important to respond politely to the editor of the original journal and explain that you are withdrawing your submission. Remember to thank them for their time and comments.
In the next lesson, we will look more closely at how best to respond to a journal editor about reviewer comments.
Always discuss your decision with your co-authors first to avoid any conflicts. All authors need to agree on withdrawing a submission before you can resubmit elsewhere.