Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

How to Address Reviewer Feedback

82 views

Published on

Slides during my public lecture in UKM. Entitled: "What Doesn’t Kill You Make You Stronger-Surviving Journal Reviewer Feedback"

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

How to Address Reviewer Feedback

  1. 1. Surviving Journal Reviewer Feedback Rosdiadee Nordin Centre of Advanced Electronic & Communication Engineering Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment : adee@ukm.edu.my : https://sites.google.com/site/rosdiadee/ : http://my.linkedin.com/pub/rosdiadee-nordin __________________________ Pusat Kejuruteraan Elektronik & Komunikasi Terkehadapan
  2. 2. Before Peer Review • … editor made decisions without seeking outside input • … until 1665, Henry Oldenburg ‘invented’ the academic peer review for ‘Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society’ • Current peer review system has been systematically established since WWII • The peer review system is very old & doesn’t see much changes
  3. 3. Need for Peer Review • The heart of scientific publication & critical phase • Publish or perish – career, academic promoted & won a Nobel prize! • Peer review reports serve two main functions: • to inform editor whether work is novel, significant & suitable for publication • to inform authors on errors, means of improving their manuscript
  4. 4. Drawbacks of Peer Review • In 1976, editor of ‘Philosophical Transactions’ rejected manuscript from Edward Jenner on first vaccination • Failure to identify novel work • Suffer from intellectual suppression: • ‘Rich get richer’ • Strong bias against negative studies • Bias on nationality, gender, language & specialty
  5. 5. Drawbacks of Peer Review • Reviewer is busy & demotivated person • Results in publication delay • However recently emerge few incentives to boost motivation • Free subscription, acknowledgement & discount for publication charge
  6. 6. Peer Review Process Editor’s Decision Accept without revision Ask for minor revision (likely acceptance) Request major revision (likely re-review) Rejection
  7. 7. Reviewer is a Very Honest Person… “Since you submitted the paper to a scientific journal: where is the science?” “I am not sure why there is a full section about limitations, this in itself says a lot about the study” "I’ve never read anything like it & I do not mean it as a compliment” “Words are used inappropriately – I count, for example, 13 instances of 'unique', but it is used correctly only once”
  8. 8. Need for Peer Review • Reviewers give recommendations • Ultimately, editor makes the decision • Respond to reviewers' comments is a tricky deal • Get it right –published! • Get it wrong –rejection! • Require some ‘art’, negotiation & communication skill!
  9. 9. How to Respond to Reviewers? Digest the reviews Revise the manuscript Communicate revisions to editor
  10. 10. Step 1: Digesting the Reviews • Read the reviews ONCE, and then file them in a SAFE location • Don’t think about the reviews for few hours/days/week* • Instead, do fun things like watch movie, sports, holiday, etc** • Read the reviews again • Discuss the reviews with your co-authors • Create plan-of-ATTACK! *No specific quantity for this… **Practice with caution
  11. 11. Step 2: Revising your paper • Address ALL comments • You can’t pick which comments to address • Even minor comments need to be addressed • Address does not always mean change • You and co-authors should decide what to change, and what to defend • Often, changing is the easiest route • Always change errors in references • Skilled reviewers know the history better than newer authors • You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with experts in the field by not citing the correct papers!
  12. 12. Step 2: Revising your paper • Change does not always mean revamp • Easy changes include: • Rewording • Adding extra references • Adding an extra paragraph, table, figure • Adding an appendix • Difficult changes include: • Modifying your central hypothesis • Modifying your main algorithm • Redoing an experiment • Start with easy or difficult changes?
  13. 13. Step 2: Revising your paper • Change parts which yielded “I didn’t understand” • If the reviewer didn’t understand it, the readers might not either • “I didn’t understand” is a polite way of saying “you didn’t explain clearly enough” • Even if: • Requested change unnecessary • Text is clear (the reviewer simply missed it) • It is better to revise • Goal is to tell the reviewer that they were listened to and understood
  14. 14. Step 2: Revising your paper • Do not pit one reviewer against another! • Reviewer from different background • Different view, opinion and expertise – helpful to the editor • If there’s a conflict, choose one that will improve the paper
  15. 15. Step 2: Revising your paper • Always change parts which have been mentioned by many reviewers • If two or more reviewers make similar comments, the readers will likely have the same comments • Repeated comments stand out to the editor • It’s OK if you don’t agree with your reviewer
  16. 16. Step 3: Communicate with Editor/Reviewers • Letter to the editor & reviewers • Provide overview & detail of amendment • Summary of changes/defences • Write this first/last • Short & sweet
  17. 17. Step 3: Communicate with Editor/Reviewers • To help the reviewer navigate your response • Use changes of font, color, or indenting to discriminate between 3 different elements: • The review itself • Your responses to the review • Changes made to the manuscript • Make use of track changes & comment box
  18. 18. Step 3: Communicate with Editor/Reviewers • Make a dialogue-type list of comments and responses • For changes: Indicate location (page, paragraph & line numbers)
  19. 19. Polite & Respectful • Even if the reviewer lacks intellectual capacity, please refrain from conveying this impression to them • Imagine if you see him in person • If the reviewer not the expert, but this level of expertise (or lack thereof) may be representative of journal readers • Make the work clear and accessible to all readers, not just experts • Thank the reviewer abundantly • but don’t overdo
  20. 20. Polite & Respectful • Do not use AGGRESSIVE or defensive tone • Example 1: • What you want to say: That experiment would take forever! • What you should say: The suggested experiment is interesting and would provide additional information about..., but we feel that it falls outside the scope of this study • Example 2: • What you want to say: You just didn’t understand what we wrote! • What you should say: Several statements that we made were more ambiguous than intended, and we have adjusted the text to be clearer
  21. 21. Make the Response Self-Explanatory • Quote changes directly in the response letter • Refer to specific line number where changes applied • A self-explanatory response letter makes it easier for the editor/reviewer to understand changes • No need to go back & forth between manuscript & letter • Reduce chances editor/reviewer to read full manuscript (or find new things to complain) • Editor can make quick decision! • Only exception is when the modification is large (addition of new paragraphs, graphs, methodology)
  22. 22. Respond to Every Point • Often, reviews will be organized into bullet points • But reviewer may raise two (or more) separate issues within 1 bullet • Be sure to respond explicitly to all critiques
  23. 23. Begin Response with Direct Answer • Begin your response to each comment with a direct answer to the point being raised • Provide a “yes” or “no” answer • When the reviewer is correct, state so in your response
  24. 24. Write the Response Twice (At Least!) • Initial document can be incomplete/inaccurate to address concern • It can also be a place to vent your frustration! • Once the initial draft finish, or after several days/weeks later... • You become rational! • Eventually, you will write what the reviewers want to see • You can also write a separate letter to the editor • Address issues such as potential conflicts of interest, reviewers' requests conflict with one another or with journal policies
  25. 25. Top 10 Rules • Rule 1: Provide an overview, then quote the full set of reviews • Rule 2: Be polite and respectful of all reviewers • Rule 3: Accept the blame • Rule 4: Make the response self-explanatory • Rule 5: Respond to every point raised by the reviewer • Rule 6: Use typography to help the reviewer navigate your response • Rule 7: Begin response to each comment with direct answer • Rule 8: When possible, do what the reviewer asks • Rule 9: Be clear about what changed relative to the previous version • Rule 10: Write the response twice
  26. 26. Recap • When digesting reviews: • Try not to take things personally • Expect at least one harsh reviewer • When revise the paper: • Divide and conquer (do difficult changes first) • When addressing the editor/reviewers • Communicate your changes, making an extra effort to be professional and thankful • You can disagree, as long as you explain
  27. 27. Key Takeaway • Process of responding to reviewer is the stressful part of publication • But, reviewers volunteering their time to ensure validity of results and quality in our research area • Manuscript after review process is an improvement from the original
  28. 28. Thank You! Q&A

×