Occasionally an author will conclude that the referee erred in reviewing his paper. To resolve these disputes, the RF follows the following procedure.
The author sends a letter detailing the issues in dispute to the editor who handled the original manuscript. At least two weeks must elapse between receipt of the decision letter and the sending of this letter. (Sometimes, authors might express concerns to the editor about a referee report but stop short of a dispute. We are not obliged to reply to such emails if they are sent within two weeks).
The editor will review the dispute and may also confer with the original referee, asking him/her whether s/he agrees or disagrees with the issues raised by the author. At this stage, the editor will decide whether they agree or disagree with the issues raised by the author, and may also change the editorial decision. Please note that the editor may agree with the author that the referee erred, but not change their editorial decision.
If editor does not agree that the original referee erred, the author can initiate the following formal dispute procedure:
- The author submits their appeal manuscript and materials via the Editorial Express system and selects the €800 appeal payment option during the submission process. Please note that the manuscript must be the original manuscript; authors do not have the opportunity to revise the paper, since the grounds for a dispute is that the referee erred in the evaluation of the original manuscript (not that the authors believe they can address the referee’s concerns).
- The Managing Editor has the option to desk-reject the dispute, in which case €700 of the submission fee is refunded. Otherwise, the Managing Editor will assign a dispute editor who differs from the original editor. The dispute editor will review the manuscript, the original referee report and all correspondence relating to the dispute, and may also send it to an external referee (who differs from the original referee); the referee payment for a dispute is €400.
- Based on either their own reading of the material, and/or the advice of a dispute referee and/or potential consultation with other editors or associate editors, the dispute editor will decide whether they agree with the author that the first referee erred. If so, the RF will refund the incremental €800 fee. This is irrespective of whether or not the RF eventually publishes the paper. The dispute editor will also decide whether to either uphold the initial rejection, or change it to a revise-and-resubmit or (conditional) acceptance. Please note that the dispute editor may agree with the author that the referee erred, but not change their editorial decision.
Please note that this process applies only to submissions that were rejected with at least one external referee. Desk rejections cannot be appealed.