When you submit your research paper to a peer-reviewed journal, you will probably be nervous to hear the editor’s decision. If you are ready to deal with them practically, the journal’s verdict and your fellow judges’ opinions should not upset you. In this article, we give you some hints to effectively respond to the editors/reviewers’ comments.
Tips for responding to reviewer comments
As an author, you may be afraid to get feedback from reviewers who request major reviews. It’s terrifying to work again for a job for which you have worked so hard. But do not be tempted to give up. Often, the result is worth the effort. Here are some tips on how to respond to such comments.
- Give point-to-point answers: Number the reviewer’s scores and answer them in order. Use titles like “Review 1” and then “Comment 1”. This will make it easier for the editor/reviewer to track your work. It is important to address any points that the peer reviewer or editor of the journal may have raised.
- Give reasoned arguments: If you do not agree with the referee, you should say so. However, do not simply express your disagreement. Provide the necessary details to help the reviewer understand your line of reasoning. If possible, cite published studies to support your argument.
- Pay attention to detail: Details are important when explaining how to address any concerns. For example, if a reviewer says you need to re-insert / reinterpret data, you can describe the experiments you performed and the results you obtained, and indicate where you added that information. You may be careful when following the reviewer’s suggestion and even stick to the exact sentences you added or modified in the manuscript, as this can save the editor/reviewer from the hassle of moving files.
- Be careful of your tone: Remember, critics criticize your work, not you. Do not let your answers reflect any bitterness. If you disagree, speak honestly but respectfully, and confirm your statement with a logical and scientific explanation, and cite sources from the literature for support.
- Appreciate the reviewers’ work: Peer reviewers spend their time reviewing your article free of charge. In most cases, they intend to help the authors improve their studies. Use their advice. A long list of reviewers’ detailed comments usually means that the reviewer has spent time evaluating your study and providing constructive feedback. Be sure to thank the referee for their efforts.
- Take a break: Initial irritation is only natural. Take time off and then read the comments again carefully and objectively to ensure that you have clearly understood the reviewers’ concerns.
Are peer reviewers always right? How to respond?
Peer referees are experts in their field. However, this does not mean that their opinions are always correct. Evaluate each reviewer based on their merits. Do not disagree with the referee simply because you agree or with the misconception that the editor of the journal expects you to include all the referees’ suggestions. In the end, your studies and your reputation are at stake.
You may also receive conflicting feedback from reviewers. One reviewer may be satisfied with the method while another may find it inappropriate. Slight disagreements are normal, but such completely contradictory views can be confusing. See which referee you most agree with and follow his advice and justify your decision to the editor. On the other hand, you can ask the editor to give you a third opinion. Ultimately, it is the journal’s editor who decides how to deal with the conflict. Presenting a reasoned argument is likely to shift the balance in your favor.
Peer review reviews often provide a great opportunity to improve the quality of your article. Addressing them enough may increase your chances of being accepted, if not in that journal, at least elsewhere. You can now confidently review your peer review process with accurate tips for responding to reviewers’ comments.