How to Effectively Deal with Reviewer and Editor Comments
If, after you submitted your article, the journal asks you to revise and re-submit it, you should not feel disheartened. Suggestions for minor or major revisions of your paper should be seen as an expected part of the process. This type of feedback should not be interpreted as criticism, but an opportunity to improve your article some.
Look at the opportunity as a way to receive free advice from other experts. If you are new to publishing in academic journal take solace in knowing that it is unusual for articles to get accepted without some revision.
Here are some tips to help you negotiate this last hurdle before getting published:
- Comments can often appear voluminous and detailed. However, if this happens it can be a blessing. If the reviewer(s) wrote very specific instructions of what is expected, it can be easier for you to make the needed adjustments and pass the second review. View a thorough review as an academic gift that will help you achieve your goal.
- Do not ignore certain comments (or worse, let yourself get upset about them). You generally are expected to address all of the reviewers’ points. If you strongly disagree with something they have said, then you need to justify and explain why that is so and back it with evidence. The review process is a part of the scientific debate, so behave accordingly.
- Make a list of all the points that need to be addressed. It can be helpful to create a table and organize the comments systematically. Also, you can mark which of the revisions are minor and which will require more effort, so it’s easier for you to plan your revision.
- Some prefer to first address the minor points and then move on to more substantive points (for the purpose of time management). Sometimes, after dealing with all the minor points, things can become a lot more manageable when you realize you are only left with a handful of elements that need time-intensive revising and re-writing.
- When submitting your changes, make it clear what was done. The editor and the reviewers might not have time to read through your entire article again, so you need to provide the reviewers some guidance. One possibility is to copy and paste each of the reviewer’s comments and write below what was done to address them. Be as specific as possible and provide the page numbers that relate to the revisions. For instance, if you were asked to elaborate on a certain section of the paper, you can write: ‘the [ARTICLE ELEMENT] was changed on pages 3, lines 5-30.’ In other cases, the journal will ask you to use a word processor that allows you to track changes (e.g. Microsoft Word).
- Be polite in your response letter. Thank the editor and reviewers for their time and acknowledge any compliment they might have expressed regarding your paper. Consider that the reviewers volunteered their time to review your paper. They are usually authors themselves and most of them are interested in making your paper better.
Summary: When reviewing your reviewer’s comments, keep in mind that your final goal is an accepted article. Take enough time to consider all the comments and respond to them thoroughly. Also, choose your battles wisely. You might not completely agree with everything that was asked of you, but it can sometimes be better not to argue about every minor point if compromising does not negatively affect your material. More often than not, you might find the review process a great learning experience, as well as an opportunity to improve your work before publication, so try to embrace the process in the name of good science.
Lastly, congrats! If you have made it this far you are likely days away from being published. Instead of looking at the review process in a negative light, focus any internal emotion you may have in relishing upon a good well done.