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Do physicists really consider the editor saying "change the title" a rejection? If the only request I got from an editor was "change the title" I would be popping the champagne.



From what I gather there are essentially four outcomes to the review: accepted, accepted after minor modifications, rejected pending resubmission after substantial modifications, fully rejected.

Minor modifications shouldn't require a new full review cycle, maybe just the editor takes a look, or just some quick check with reviewer to see if they accept the change.

Rejecting pending resubmission is for larger changes which require a more thorough review, but the journal is still interested in publishing the paper. This might be a section that requires more explanation, for example more details on how samples were controlled for other factors.

Also as mentioned a full rejection doesn't automatically mean the paper is rubbish, it could just be the journal doesn't consider it a good fit or similar. It's not uncommon for a paper to go through multiple rejections before getting published.

At least that's my understanding based on a close friend who publishes papers, feel free to correct me.


You've pretty much got it, but a paper receiving either of the "accept" outcomes in the first round is extremely rare. I know of zero. Your third, "rejected pending resubmission after modifications" is the normal path for papers that go on to be accepted. Often this is called a "revise and resubmit" or R&R.


"Nobel Prize-winning physicist offered opportunity to re-word awkward title" doesn't get clicks though.


no, "change the title" is not a rejection. The entire article we're discussing is based on a silly narrative that somehow the literature is supposed to act as a binary classification filter for nobel prize winning work.


I think instead, its highlighting the fact that such literature reviewers are remarkably incapable of distinguishing groundbreaking work from nonsense. This would be an important measure of an editor, I would think. That they don't reject what the journal is supposed to be seeking.


reviewers don't exist to detect groundbreaking work (we live in an area where every scientist touts their paper as groundbreaking... beacuse they wouldn't get published otherwise).

reviewers exist to find the dumb, obvious errors in papers that should prevent publication so as to not waste too much of other's people's time.


A neat synopsis of why the system is broken. Thanks!


Science doesn't end after publication. Discussion and citation lead to further analysis of a work, allowing people to identify and understand truly groundbreaking ideas.

Peer review is only broken if you expect it to be something it isnt.


no I think that's a sign it's working it's not like anyone in the field has an ability to predict what's truly groundbreaking groundbreaking is something that you realize 5 years later in the context of many other things that have gone on. for example I doubt that the first reviewers of the crisper papers really appreciated the deep power of the technique.


But "fix the title and we'll print it" is not a meaningful rejection. Groundbreaking research doesn't mean that your article can't be improved in any way.




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