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How to respond to reviewers: When two reviewers say the same thing

October 31, 2014 Filed under Blog, Featured, Reviewing, Writing 

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My coauthors and I were talking about the responses to the reviewers that we were writing for a paper that was in peer review. Because two of the reviewers raised issues about the same item, my coauthor wrote a thoughtful response to Reviewer #1, then, in response to Reviewer #2, said basically, “See our response to Reviewer #1.”

Wrong.

My recommendation is to treat the responses to the reviewers independently. So, if you respond to the point in the first review, then in your response to the second review, don’t refer back to the first review. Either duplicate your response for Reviewer 2 or put a single response at the beginning addressed to both reviewers. It’s a bit of a courtesy to both reviewers that you reply to them directly (in case the manuscript goes back to them), and it is a bit more convenient for the Editor to see the dialog as it unfolds, rather than having to jump around amongst the reviews and the responses.

Turns out that I’m not the only person dispensing that advice, as I found out from the third coauthor who had encountered a case where a student responding to reviews had been reprimanded for not treating the reviewers independently of another.

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