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  • Peii Chen, PhD

You cannot stop Reviewer 2

Updated: May 8, 2021

There is a Facebook page called Reviewer 2 Must be Stopped. The title of the page makes academics smile. It is very rare that the first submission of a manuscript receives positive reviews from all reviewers. There is always one reviewer (here, Reviewer 2) whose comments are tough to address. They may not reject your paper immediately but ask for major revision. They may not be satisfied after you resubmit two or even three times. Then time flies, a year has passed, and your paper is still not accepted.

Consider the paper a communication tool between you and the readers. At this point, the critical reader is Reviewer 2. Your job is to get your message clear and understandable for this person. They may not agree with your argument, which is totally fine as the back-and-forth is the nature of communication. However, you must let them know why you do not agree with their comment in a way that is calm and respectful and factual. For example, you can educate them in the Response Letter if Reviewer 2 does not fully understand certain topics mentioned in your paper. Another example is to offer a space in the Discussion section to discuss about the "controversy". That is, you can turn a negative comment into an opportunity of enhancing the quality of your paper.

It is possible that Reviewer 2's comments suggest that they are biased against your work or they have little understanding of the methods used in your study. This is unfortunately but it happens. In this case, I suggest you contact the journal editor. The editor should be able to provide guidance. The editor may help you interpret the comments, prioritize certain points raised by the reviewer, or resolve the conflict you perceive.

There is no point to stop Reviewer 2. They help you improve your communication skills in writing. You help them see the value of your work.

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