How to react to peer reviewers’ comments: some do’s and don’ts

How to respond to peer reviewers’ comments: some do’s and don’ts

Peer review is an integral part of the manuscript conformity and publication process. Peer reviewers’ comments can range from minor questions about data to requests for extra data/experiments or questions about the methodology. Addressing peer reviewers’ comments can be fairly tense, particularly when the comments are exhaustive. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you deal with peer review comments confidently.

Do’s

  • Stay silent: It is a peer reviewer’s job to critically  assess your research to ensure that it makes a valuable contribution to your field, and they may provide exhaustive comments or suggest a lot of revisions. Receiving a few critical/negative comments is no reason to funk. Stay peaceful and assess each comment for the value it adds. 
  • Seek an opinion: Discuss the comments with your coauthors/colleagues who are familiar with your work. They may be able to share a different perspective on dealing with complicated reviewer comments.
  • Be thorough: Address each comment fully. Do not miss out any points. You could identify  each point by numbering it and providing corresponding responses to ensure that you don’t skip any.
  • Be open to disagreements: You do not have to agree to everything the reviewers say. If you feel that a suggestion, observation, or comment is outside the scope of your research, mention this, too.
  • Be polite: When disagreeing with the reviewers, do so politely but reasonably. 
  • Substantiate  wherever necessary: Provide extra supporting data, including references/extra data to support your argument.
  • React promptly and clearly: Be prompt with your responses and clearly indicate sections that you have switched based on reviewers’ suggestions. 

Don’ts

  • Do not be reluctant to receiving feedback or criticism: Do not argue or refute every comment made  by the reviewers. Some negative comments might actually be valid and add value to your research.
  • Do not react emotionally: Recall that it is about your manuscript and not about you. View negative feedback as constructive, not individual, criticism and address it with a neutral treatment.
  • Avoid sweeping opinion statements: Avoid statements such as “we fully disagree” in your rebuttal letter. Stick to construction like, “We agree with the reviewer…but…”. This will ensure that your responses to reviewers’ comments are polite but stiff  and well thought out.
  • Do not deny the request of the reviewers for original/raw data. Your refusal to provide extra data might be perceived negatively. It is normal for reviewers to request for orginal or raw data in order to better understand or verify certain aspects of your findings.

For more tips on addressing reviewers’ comments, read this article.

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