I just had (once again) a not very satisfying experience with a journal. A paper that I have written together with a colleague was rejected, but that is not the problem. We all know that acceptances are rare and rejections are common and we have to learn to deal with that. But this time our paper was not just rejected. We submitted the paper and after a few weeks we got an e-mail that review process will take approximately three months. After waiting for another four months we wrote a very friendly e-mail inquiring about the status of the review process. This time the answer was fast. We got an e-mail on the same day informing us that our paper was rejected. The editorial assistant also let us know that they got two reviews, one of which was negative, and he then cites the negative review (or parts of it because it was not very long) pointing out that our paper deals with an important topic but invests too much on metaethical issues and that its conclusions are not very interesting. The review, finally, suggests to give the paper a new structure and to rewrite some parts of it. OK, we disagree with some of that criticism but so is (peer-review) life. What I do not understand are two things that could be better and would make a rejection a bit less unpleasant:
(1) Why wait until you are asked to let authors know about the rejection?? I cannot believe that the review(s) just arrived within that 12 hours between our inquiry and the rejection e-mail. (That only gives reason to speculate if the reviewer was emailed again after our inquiry and s/he then wrote a quick review to get it of her/his desk.)
(2) If you get two reviews please pass along both, especially if it seems that only one of them was negative and the other positive. Yes, we will deal with the criticism but it also helps to read what people liked about your work and what you got right.
I am a social and political philosopher.