Q: Can I withdraw my paper if I feel distrustful of the review?

Detailed Question -

I submitted my paper to an open access (OA) journal, and it was evaluated as a major revision. However, I feel a bit distrustful of the review as there was some flaw in the editing made by the journal. Can I withdraw my paper for such a reason? What should I do?

1 Answer to this question

It is great that you are closely examining your review comments, instead of blindly accepting them. However, without knowing the exact nature of the flaw in editing that you are talking about, it would be difficult to recommend precisely how to proceed. Also, the ‘flaw’ may simply be an oversight on the part of the reviewer. In any case, we would suggest doing any or all of the following.

  • You could send a mail to the editor checking about this. You could provide your rationale without bringing up the points about distrust and withdrawal. If the journal entertains mid-revision mails, the editor will forward the mail to the reviewer seeking a response. (Until the response comes, you could of course continue with the rest of the changes.) If the reviewer sends a rational response and says that it was indeed a flaw, you know the journal is doing due diligence and therefore proceed with the next stage(s) in publication. If the response isn’t satisfactory or this becomes a conflict (with you indeed believing your viewpoint is correct), you can then consider withdrawing the manuscript.
  • You could proceed with making the revisions. In the document noting your responses to the erroneous comment(s), you could provide a justification for why you believe the comment(s) is flawed, and therefore, why you haven’t made the change(s). If the flawed comment(s) impacts the entire manuscript, you will of course not be able to proceed with the revisions. Therefore, as suggested above, you may first send a mail to the editor.
  • You could assess the reviewer’s response to your note(s) about the possibly flawed comment(s). As mentioned earlier, on submitting the revised manuscript, if the reviewer’s response is rational or conciliatory of the possibly flawed comment, you can be sure the journal is doing its best. If their response is not accurate or satisfactory, and this results in a conflict, you may then consider withdrawing.

In short, while you may well be accurate of your initial assessment of the reviewer’s comment(s), at this stage, it helps to give a ‘benefit of the doubt’ to the reviewer. All the best for a satisfactory dialog with the journal and reviewer!

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