How to respond to peer reviewer comments after you submit your article to a journal
You have spent hours writing, editing, and proofing your paper. You and your co-authors agreed on a version and submitted the paper to your target journal. The journal’s editor has sent you the peer reviewers’ comments and a request that you re-submit your paper after revisions. Now what?
Begin by writing a general letter to the journal’s editor in which you thank him or her for handling your manuscript and inviting you to resubmit your paper. State in this letter that you have taken all the comments from the reviewers and/or editor into consideration and have revised your paper accordingly. You should state that you believe your paper is stronger or improved (it should be!) and that you hope the paper is now suitable for publication in the journal. Also state that you have provided a point-by-point response to the reviewers (and editor if applicable), either in a separate document or below the general letter. You should also indicate how your changes are shown in the revised version of your paper (track changes, highlight, underlined, etc.). Some journals specify how you should show your changes.
Here are some tips for your point-by-point responses to the reviewers’ comments:
Be polite, professional, and positive.
Make any changes requested by the journal’s editor to satisfy the journal’s house style (e.g., keywords, word count limits, etc.)
Thank the reviewer for his/her valuable insight/important comments.
Address each comment point by point. Be thorough when addressing a comment with multiple points, recommendations, or questions.
Try to accommodate every reasonable request. Remember, the peer reviewer is helping you make your paper better. You can disagree with a reviewer’s recommendation, but don’t make a habit of it. Be very careful about disagreeing with the reviewer and try to accommodate the request as much as possible.
Explain each change you made and show examples. In the letter, show in quotes any new text that you have added to your paper. Depending on the journal’s house style, indicating the line/page numbers may be helpful. Practice careful version control, so that any new text you show in your letter exactly matches that in the revised version of the paper.
If a reviewer requests additional experiments or more data, provide the information if at all possible. If you cannot perform a new experiment for, say, technical reasons, be sure to explain this. The new data can be added to the main paper, added to the paper as supplemental information, or included in the point-by-point response to reviewers letter, as appropriate.
If the reviewer recommends that you add a particular reference, ensure that it is appropriate and then add it.
If the reviewer requests that you delete a figure, table, or section of text, consider this carefully and make the deletion if at all reasonable. Other options are to delete portions of a table or to move a figure or table to supplemental data.
If the reviewer misstates your science or says he/she doesn’t understand something, this is your opportunity to rewrite to clarify. If the reviewer misunderstands something you wrote, readers may misunderstand as well.
Ensure that the revised version of the paper is still structured correctly (e.g., abbreviations still defined at first mention, logical flow of sections, tables and figures still cited in numerical order, references renumbered correctly, etc.).
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Keywords: peer review comments, peer reviewer, science journal, journal editor, journal resubmission, journal guidelines, scientific editor, neuroscience journals