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Important advice from an editor for responding to reviewers

September 10, 2010 Filed under Blog, Featured, Reviewing 

Occasionally as an editor I see an author respond to a reviewer, let’s say Reviewer 1, in the following manner.

“Response to Reviewer 1′s comment that we should rerun the model: Reviewer 2 didn’t see a problem with our method, so we choose not to rerun the model.”

It may well be that Reviewer 2 didn’t see a problem with your method and, hence, didn’t comment on it in the review. Yet, there may be many reasons why Reviewer 2 didn’t make that comment, reasons that don’t excuse you from still doing your best to address Reviewer 1′s comment by providing a meaningful response. Dismissing Reviewer 1′s comments doesn’t win favor with Reviewer 1 or the editor.

Even in the case where Reviewer 2 supports your existing model simulation, agreeing with Reviewer 2 is essentially argument by authority, which is a flawed way to present your argument.

Bottom line: Don’t pit your reviewers against each other. Present your responses to each one individually, as if they were independent.

(One caveat to this is if you get one reviewer recommending one change and the other reviewer explicitly recommending the opposite. In that case, pick a side, or your way, and defend it as staunchly as you can.)

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