It's been a frustrating day. I submitted a paper I'm pretty fond of (it's my myth of the fjb paper) to a journal back on 12.01.2007. (Look right-------------->) Journal responds on 1.01.09 with R&R. I'm sent three referee reports and they are surprisingly encouraging. Resubmit 7.08.09. Receive the final decision today. It's not good. One of the referees has mixed feelings. (To referee (#4?), if you're reading, your comments were very much appreciated. I think I can deal better with the worry you raise in the comments than I did in the paper. You might be right that your way of stating the worry is better than the way it was stated by the people I addressed in my discussion. That's for another time.) Here's what's frustrating. The news came as follows:
"Two referees were consulted. One returned equivocal advice (report copied below), finding merit in the paper, but not giving it a thoroughgoing endorsement. The other did not write a report for the author, but the advice given was negative and, given the identity of the referee, the Editorial Board took the opinion very seriously. The Board think the main thrust of the paper is promising, but in these circumstances we cannot publish."
This paper has been under review in some form or other for a pretty long time. Can't I just get a sentence or two explaining the verdict? This is like the _Blair Witch Project_. Yes, I know things ended badly, but what the hell happened?
I've emailed the editor to ask if there's something he can share that gives me some sense of what the referee's reason(s) were for rejecting. He's been quite helpful so far, but in the off chance that referee #5 is reading, will you please consider dropping me an email (off the record, obviously, I'm not going to say anything about your identity or your reasons for rejecting the paper) so I know what reason or reasons you had for the rejection? I didn't expect a good outcome, but I was hoping that someone would give some explanation.
I think the latest email basically said that I'll never be given any of the reasons the 5th referee had for rejecting. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an explanation given the length of time I've had to wait for a verdict.