How to respond to a very negative reviewer?

posted
19-Apr-16, 08:54
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for jollybrielle
posted about 4 years ago
We have submitted our article to a reputed journal. Although it is our independent research with me - a graduate student and a doctoral. We received 2 reviewers' comments. One of them are very positive, he said it can be published with minor revise. The second one is very negative. From the beginning of his comments to the end, it is countless times he repeated that our work is pointless, non-sense, totally non-sense poor, careless....he even use "!!!" to describe his emotion. Nevertheless, we feel negative when we read his comment although we appreciate about his suggestions for our work. We do not know how to respond to his negative comments over our work. We are happy to receive the criticism of the reviewers but to say, the work we did for hours and months are just pointless, is really hurtful. Should we stay calm or fight back? Any suggestions
.
posted
19-Apr-16, 09:04
edited a moment later
by Hugh
Avatar for Hugh
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From jollybrielle:
We have submitted our article to a reputed journal. Although it is our independent research with me - a graduate student and a doctoral. We received 2 reviewers' comments. One of them are very positive, he said it can be published with minor revise. The second one is very negative. From the beginning of his comments to the end, it is countless times he repeated that our work is pointless, non-sense, totally non-sense poor, careless....he even use "!!!" to describe his emotion. Nevertheless, we feel negative when we read his comment although we appreciate about his suggestions for our work. We do not know how to respond to his negative comments over our work. We are happy to receive the criticism of the reviewers but to say, the work we did for hours and months are just pointless, is really hurtful. Should we stay calm or fight back? Any suggestions
.


If you think the reviewer if seriously in error, then you could contact the editor and mention that, and see what they say. They might ask someone else to review it, and discount that review.

However, if you are to respond, I would be calm. I would respond along the lines of: Thank you for suggesting X, we understand/appreciate your comment. However, we feel ... XX ... and that's why the suggested change will not be made.

I would address every single comment, even if it is a very pointless harsh comment.
posted
19-Apr-16, 10:21
by pd1598
Avatar for pd1598
posted about 4 years ago
It is completely improper for a reviewer to respond in that way, but do keep calm in replying. I thought that if two reviewers were entirely opposed, a 3rd reviewer would be needed? I'd contact the editor.
posted
19-Apr-16, 10:27
Avatar for IntoTheSpiral
posted about 4 years ago
I actually wrote a blog post about my strategy for dealing with rejection - I've attached a link.

But, basically... my advice is to take what is useful from the comments, and ignore the rest. It's not easy but the more rejections you receive, the more you get used to the process of ignoring the rude and incorrect comments. However, there may be some useful content in the review (even the nasty one) which can make your work better. So, take a deep breath and read it to identify those helpful snippets from within.

In terms of what to practically do next - I agree with pd above, definitely contact the editor and check whether a 3rd reviewer is going to be assigned.
posted
19-Apr-16, 19:58
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for Thesisfun
posted about 4 years ago
I don't think there is much point contacting the editor- in this situation, they could have gone with rejection or revision. They have decided to go with revision and decided not to invite a third reviewer. They are obviously happy that it may be suitable for publication.

I would respond point-by-point- do not ignore anything, even if you just put 'thank you for this comment.'

BTW- if your paper is not rejected, it has obviously been pitched too low!
posted
20-Apr-16, 14:04
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 4 years ago
The OP didn't say what the editor's decision was but if not reject, then whether it's R&R, accept with revision or accept with correction will give a sense of how much the editor agrees with the critical review. If it's R&R then you really need to engage with the criticism not just dismiss it. This might be a moment where sharing the reviews with an experienced person in your field is a good idea - someone like your supervisor can probably help you to work out what needs addressing and what can be left.
If the journal has rejected it, you need to think whether a) there really are some flaws that need fixing, or if not fixable, mean a lower ranked journal might be more appropriate b) whether you made a poor choice of journal e.g. somewhere that doesn't really publish articles in this theoretical / methodological vein.
What I would advise against doing (having heard some awful tales at conferences recently) is the entitled postgrad act - i.e. refusing to accept the editor's decision, resubmitting a basically unchanged article after a R&R with the comment that the reviewer is an idiot etc. It really does not get you anywhere.
posted
20-Apr-16, 14:28
by satchi
Avatar for satchi
posted about 4 years ago
hello, I am dealing with difficult reviews too, I got an R&R but now I am seriously thinking of still doing the revisions anyway, but withdraw and submit to another journal!!!
Can I do that?

I have undergone heavy criticism before, but on this occasion I really feel that the reviewers did not read the manuscript properly, OR they are simply not the right people to have reviewed the work. For example, getting "qualitative people" to review "quantitative" studies.

Will make a decision soon
posted
20-Apr-16, 16:37
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From satchi:
hello, I am dealing with difficult reviews too, I got an R&R but now I am seriously thinking of still doing the revisions anyway, but withdraw and submit to another journal!!!
Can I do that?

I have undergone heavy criticism before, but on this occasion I really feel that the reviewers did not read the manuscript properly, OR they are simply not the right people to have reviewed the work. For example, getting "qualitative people" to review "quantitative" studies.

Will make a decision soon

Yes you can but the risk is that the other journal's reviewers might have completely different issues.
posted
21-Apr-16, 19:55
Avatar for Drmumphd
posted about 4 years ago
I don't think there is a "textbook" response to negative review comments. Remember, they are just that - comments. If you truly think the reviewer has missed the point or misunderstood, its an oportunity to defend why you made the decisions you made. I would suggest that if they havent understood the paper or think its pointless, then you could perhaps look at the language/message of the paper and see if it could be altered. The chances are if the reviewer thinks that, other people reading it will. if it has been accepted with revisions, they obviously feel the content is good, just need to clarify why it is so fabulous. Good luck!

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