I have recently been asked to review a paper, and realistically, it's got flaws. I am going to suggest in my review that the paper is rejected.

However, I have had a previous experience where I suggested rejection but gave a detailed and constructive review anyway, and then saw the paper published and unchanged a few months later in another journal. I am concerned that the same will happen again and am looking for normal solutions to this and would like to ask on the academia stack exchange, but I'm not sure it's on topic - I've had previous questions go off topic.

Would asking about this problem, and asking how/if one should pursue cases where flawed papers get sent to you for review, or even what to do when you see a paper with a technical/theoretical flaw published?

In short the question would ask what to do when a published paper has a flaw which you notice, and whether one can do something proactively when reviewing the paper.

What are the options when you notice a critical flaw in a paper?

One could simply ignore it, but this is damaging to the research community. Could one write a response article which identifies and explains the flaws? If it is for a paper received for review could one contact the editor to request the publication of a response alongside the article?


Yes, questions about peer-review or dealing with flawed published papers are very on-topic. So, you could very well ask questions along the lines of the following:

  • I am peer-reviewing a paper with serious but not obvious flaws; how can I avoid that the authors just take it to another journal, when I reject it?

    I am afraid that the answer will boil down to nothing, but that does not invalidate the question and you’ll never know whether somebody has some solution – that’s what this platform is for.

  • A seriously flawed paper I peer-reviewed and rejected got published without major changes by another journal. How can I let the scientific community know.

    While we have questions along this line¹², they are not about the case that you reviewed the paper. So, if they do not answer your problem, I see no problem with a question that sufficiently addresses why they don’t.

In both cases, I have not thoroughly checked for a possible duplicate to exist; so you should still do this.

Also, please refrain from providing information that allows to identify the paper, the journals or the authors.

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