I recently submitted a paper for publication. I was amazed to read the tone of one of the reviewers.
Previously, it was read by a pair of peers. I am completely sure that they would tell me if they found something wrong with the manuscript. Instead, their comments were positive.
This reviewer did not address any specific point of the work, just underestimated it as a whole. I could understand if his/her opinion was that the work is poor overall, but I perceive his/her comments as unnecessarily offensive.
As examples, the review contains the sentences:
It seems to the present referee that the author does not realize what constitutes the fundamental problem of molecular quantum mechanics as related to calculation chemistry.
The simple fact that the author ... and then he picks the "best" through statistics and numerology, reflects his attitude and respect towards the concept of THEORY.
On the contrary, very often my colleagues joke about (and many times we have discussed) my obsession with accuracy and scientific rigor. So, I am very convinced that the manuscript can not have an unusually high lack of rigor.
Although I have already published papers, I am inexperienced in publishing. This was the first time that I did the publishing process by myself.
I wish to know
- Are these kinds of comments normal from reviewers? If so, what motivates them? I tend to think that the comments should be an objective appreciation of the work and not the author.
- How are they perceived by the academic community?
- Should I respond in any way?
Just for clarification. I don't have evidence that the reviewer misunderstood the work. The only comment he/she made is the second quote that I previously included in the question. It is noteworthy to say that this point is far away from the central point or incumbency of the paper. The other thing he/she mentioned about the work is related to the title.
Getting angry reviews that, in your opinion, fail to understand your work is normal. It's sadly part of the territory.
It's hard to say why someone writes an angry review. Maybe they're an angry person, maybe they had a bad day and didn't like your work, or maybe they're one of those "tough love" people and get a little harsh when they disagree about something.
Your best approach is to ignore the tone of the review. If your paper got accepted, celebrate your publication. If you get a rebuttal, try to address their underlying concerns by politely pointing out why they are wrong and you are right.
If you are certain that your work is correct and the reviewer is wrong, think about what in your paper might lead them to believe what they did. If one person thinks you did something wrong, others might too. Consider rewriting that part of the paper to clear up any misunderstandings. It may be time consuming, but it will make your paper all the stronger in the long run.
Not to make any assumptions as to your research ability, but if this is your first time submitting a publication on your own, it is entirely possible that your technique is wrong. You can be rigorous in your approach and still do things incorrectly. It may be worthwhile to approach a more senior researcher that you trust and get their opinion on your paper with respect to the review.