Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Some common-sense advice regarding responding to peer-reviewers

Editing and (especially) reviewing are mostly thankless jobs which take time and attention from the busy schedules of reviewers. Facilitating their work (or at least not making it harder than absolutely necessary) is therefore a very important way to improve the odds of a favourable decision. As such, it is absolutely crucial that every reviewer/editor comment be acknowledged and addressed. Authors may always decline to make a requested change by presenting their reasons, but failing to mention any one of the reviewer's comments (even if to reject their pertinence) may come across as evasive and less than fully transparent. Moreover, it is one of the worst things an author can do to their chances of a favourable outcome: at best, it can be taken as a passive-agressive way to signal discontent with "dreaded reviewer#3". At worst, it can be mis-interpreted as an attempt to hoodwink editors.  In any case, it increases the probability of tipping the editor's judgment away from a positive decision.

A few hints to help reviewers appreciate your response:

  • When you prepare your rebuttal,  provide the full text of all of the reviewers' comments to the initial version of this submission, interspersed with your detailed replies to each point (preferably in a different font, for ease of reading).
  • Some journals request re-submissions to be accompanied by a copy of the manuscript file with highlighted changes. In that case, do not highlight those changes manually: use your word-processor built-in "track changes feature" instead, to compare the initial submission to your modified manuscript.

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