I recently received a real nice set of comments from a journal referee. Although the editor rejected the paper, the ref recommended R&R, and spoke very highly of the paper's potential and the theories and arguments I defend, even if it needed some substantial revision and repackaging. I suspect that I might know the identity of this referee, based on certain context clues and the suspect's status as one of the major figures in the area. This referee's comments have led to substantial improvements in the paper--they were really tremendous. Here's the thing: I would like to get in touch with this referee, in order to a) let the person know how grateful I am, and b) ask for feedback on the changes. Is this appropriate at all? What procedures should I follow? It would be really weird to just email the suspect, right? Would it be just as weird to contact the journal? Would doing this irritate the journal staff? Would they think I was wasting their time?
I'm not sure about this one. I've never done anything like this, although I have, on occasion, received comments that were so helpful that I wished I could have expressed my gratitude to the reviewer. I definitely think it would be a bad idea to just email the person and ask if he or she was the referee: it would be weird if you were wrong, and incredibly weird if you were right. I'm not sure about asking someone at the journal. They might get annoyed--I don't know. But I guess it couldn't hurt. (Could it? Could folks with experience working for journals weigh in here?)
Or, you might just email the person without revealing your referee-related suspicions, and ask him or her to read a draft. Of course, if you're like me (i.e. a nobody), then unless the person recognizes you as the author of that high-potential paper he or she R&Red a while back, there's every chance that the message will be ignored. Whenever I have contacted people I don't know for feedback, I never hear back from them. Even if we have a lot of mutual friends on Facebook.
What say you, Smokers?