Q: Is my paper likely to go for another round of peer review after a minor revision?

Detailed Question -

I had submitted my paper to a reputed journal. After the first review, it came back for a major revision. I submitted after the revision and received a reply stating that my paper could be accepted after a minor revision (provided the reviewer's queries are addressed). One reviewer's comment was for acceptance, while the other reviewer wanted clarification about the novelty of the results. I have submitted the paper again after addressing the novelty issues. I want to know whether the paper will go for another round of peer review.

1 Answer to this question

We can understand the reason for your query and also the reason for your possible concern over the current status of your manuscript. No doubt a fair amount of time has passed since submission and perhaps even since the initial peer review, and you’re still not sure if it will be accepted.

Here’s what we have to say…

As it’s a reputed journal, the review and acceptance process is likely to be quite rigorous here. Which probably explains the reviewer conflict that has arisen. In fact, you may be facing the classic Reviewer 2 situation, in which Reviewer 1 (known to be the more permissive reviewer) has given an accept decision, but Reviewer 2, known to be tougher, has questioned, or at least, sought clarity over the novelty of the paper.

For this reason, and also because we don’t know the paper, we are not in a position to comment on how novel your research is, and therefore to say whether it will go for another round of review. However, based on our experience, in case of reviewer conflicts such as these, the decision does get prolonged. In all likelihood, the Associate Editor (AE) may refer your paper to another reviewer (if not, multiple more), increasing the timeline to a decision.

We know how this may sound to you right now, but as we mentioned earlier, quality journals put manuscripts through the wringer. On the positive side, if your manuscript is eventually accepted, you will get the chance to say that you were published in a top journal overcoming multiple obstacles. :-) And thinking positively in a worst-case scenario too, if your manuscript is eventually turned down, it has gotten pretty solid here through all the scrutiny so far for you to either consider submitting elsewhere or know just what to put in your next paper.

For now, though, the best way to proceed would be to take it step by step without worrying too much over the outcome. Which may well be positive. Note that reviewers only comment on the paper and make recommendations. The AE makes an initial decision on the paper based on the reviewer’s comments and shares this with the Editor-in-Chief (EIC), who makes the final decision on the paper. So, you have enough reason to be hopeful. But again, you need to give this some time.

For insights into similar situations, you may refer to the following queries by other researchers.

Hope that helps. All the best for whatever lies next!