After months of research and writing, you’ve finally submitted a piece to your target journal. While you may rightly feel a sense of relief, the journey to publication is far from over! If your article is of interest to the journal’s editor, they will carefully review it, and you will receive feedback. In this post, we will consider five tips for responding to reviewer comments:
Be positive and polite.
Respond to every point raised.
Make your responses easy to follow.
Respond tactfully to conflicting advice.
Edit your work before resubmitting.
Let’s look at these points in more detail.
1. Stay Positive, Polite, and Appreciative
At first, the sheer number of review comments on your article may be overwhelming. But keep in mind that revisions are a normal part of the process. There’s no need to be disheartened or offended by a long list of suggested changes.
In most cases, reviewers volunteer their time to read submissions. Their purpose is to verify the work and help researchers to present their findings in the most effective way. As experts who share your enthusiasm for your subject, they represent the journal’s readers, so their observations are valuable.
If some of the comments make you feel defensive, it is advisable to wait a while before responding. Giving yourself time to think should ensure that any annoyance doesn’t come across in the tone of your reply.
When you are ready to reply, make a point of thanking the reviewers for the time they have spent reading and assessing your work. Mentioning any comments that you found particularly helpful will show that you appreciate their expertise.
2. Reply to Every Point (Even if You Don’t Agree!)
Each point that the reviewers have raised requires a response. To ensure you don’t miss any, it is useful to make a list of the comments and go through them one by one.
This list will be sent to the reviewers with your revised manuscript, so your responses should be concise but not too informal. For example, if a spelling mistake has been pointed out, then “We have corrected the typo” would be a better response than simply “Done.”
In the case of a comment that you don’t agree with, first ask yourself how important it is. If the change is minor, it’s probably best to accept it. However, if the suggested change is something you strongly object to, you aren’t obliged to consent to it. You do need to explain why you disagree, though, and if necessary, provide further data to back up your argument.
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
3. Provide Self-Contained Responses
When you have made all the necessary changes, you will send a revised copy of the manuscript to the journal. The reviewers’ jobs will be made easier if they don’t have to keep switching between your list of responses and the revised manuscript.
So, if a change relates to only a few words, you should include a full description of what you have done in your response, e.g., “We’ve changed [original wording] to [revised wording] on page 5, line 8.”
For more substantial changes, it would not be practical to include the revised text in the list of responses. Instead, a comment like “We’ve reworded paragraph 3, page 17 in line with your suggestion” would be appropriate.
4. Respond Tactfully to Conflicting Advice
Sometimes, reviewers will disagree on whether a section should be altered or how. In this case, if the matter is a minor one, you are free to follow the advice that you prefer. Be sure to be respectful when responding to the reviewer whose suggestion you decided to ignore, though, and provide reasons for your choice.
But when the point of disagreement is more significant, you may need to seek further advice. If there is no clear solution, it would be reasonable to ask the journal editor for guidance before responding to the reviewer comments.
5. Edit Your Work
When you send your list of responses to the journal, you should also attach the revised version of your article. The “Track Changes” function in Word is useful for this, as it will help the reviewers and the editor to easily see what changes you have made.
Proofreading and editing your revised article and your responses to reviewer comments is the best way to ensure your writing is clear, concise, and error-free. Our expert editors are available to help you 24/7, and you can even try a free sample.