Here is a little tale that could have happened every day. An author sends a major paper to a major journal. The major journal has a major editor that asks other major reviewers before writing a major email.
Thank you for submitting your manuscript to XXXXX. I have now had the comments of three clinical reviewers and a statistician back and we have discussed your paper in our editorial meeting. Although there were some criticisms raised and some editors wondered whether your paper was more appropriate for a specialist journal, we would now like to invite you to respond to these and REVISE your paper in light of the reviewers’ comments below. Could you also comment on the appropriateness of your study for a general medical journal. Once I have a response back, your paper will likely to be rereviewed.
This major email includes all major points of what should be changed – leading to quite a lot of work – including emails forth and back to coauthors, phone calls, etc. and even some sleepless nights. Upon resubmission the major reviewer writes
The authors have replied comprehensively to the statistical queries. Some additional comments:
Major 1a: Response fine.
Major 1b: Response fine.
Major 1c: The additional figure helps and could usefully be included.
Major 1d: Response fine.
Major 1e: Response fine.
Major 2: It is a pity not to see the predictive model for the misclassifications. This reviewer does not agree it would profoundly change the aim of the present analysis – this is a missed opportunity to enhance the paper, and some readers will be frustrated having to wait for a further paper.
Major 3. Given the very limited number of pre measures, mention of them should be omitted, and it frankly recognized that exclusively XXXXXX is a weakness.
Major 4. This additional table of data was useful.
Major 5. Response fine.
Major 6. Other reviewers were concerned with XXXXXX. The additional table was useful – include as a web appendix?
Major 7. Response fine.
Minor 8. Response fine
Minor 9. It is appreciated the role of the second level centre effect in a multilevel model – the query was directed as to how large this effect was, either at centre or aggregated at country level? The authors describe this as an important effect, so the query remains. Minor 10. Response fine
Minor 11. Response fine
Minor 12. Agreed, a tricky problem, and not just for this dataset. Nevertheless, discussion of the problem would have rounded the discussion.
Then the major editor writes
Many thanks for submitting your responses and revised manuscript to. We have sent it to our statistician and one of the clinical reviewers again and had a long discussion in our editorial meeting. The statistician was concerned that, although you provided repsonses to the criticisms, the manuscript has not changed substantially. The editors were still of the opinion that, taking all the comments and your responses into account, your paper is better placed in a specialty journal. I am sorry I don’t have better news for you.
this is the minor end of the major story that happens a hundred times every day, leading to an excessive waste of time and money, yea, yea.