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Eva Lantsoght – My Experience of Dealing with Reviewers Comments

The final post this week comes from Eva Lantsoght you can visit her blog here and follow her on twitter. In this post Eva discusses her practical experience of dealing with reviewers comments. 

From last Thursday to Monday, I’ve been completely immersed into replying reviewers’ comments to a paper which will be published as a special publication after a conference in October. Previously, I did receive some comments from reviewers for other conference papers, but the effort they required to reply was typically negligible.

Wednesday evening, however, I received 3 pages of commentary on my paper, 19 sections with comments in total. I was both terrified (it looked like a lot of work) and enthusiastic (the reviewers really analyzed my paper and provided valuable input) at the same time. It did look like a lot of work, and I also was questioning my ability to deal with it. When quickly glancing over the comments, I could immediately point out a few remarks for which I thought I would need the input of my supervisors.

I took a deep breath, and decided I’d better first finish the (also urgent) report I was working on.

Thursday afternoon I finally started working on the comments. I started by printing out the comments, and reading through them to get a general idea of what I was supposed to do, and to check if everything is clear and not contradictory from the different reviewers’ perspectives.

Since none of the comments were overlapping, I decided to work through all of the comments one by one. In a new file, I was putting the comments and the replies to the comments. I copied the comment into the file and checked if I understood the comment. Then I went to the paper to make the requested changes. If necessary, I went to look up a few additional references, and pasted the quotes as well as the references into that file. Whenever I was asked to rephrase a large section, I pasted to old and new version into the file for comparison.

I devoted chunks of time (typically 90 minutes sessions) over the course of 4 days to replying all the comments. Where in doubt, I added some commentary in italic to the file, so I knew which parts to discuss with my supervisors.

Sunday evening I sent out the file with the italic commentary to my supervisors, and I was happy to find my daily advisor walking into my office Monday afternoon to discuss the parts I was doubting. We agreed on the final changes based on the comments, and afterwards I could finish the revised version of my paper.

I really appreciated the reviewers’ comments. It was clear that they took it serious, and spend a considerable amount of time on reading through my paper and spot unclear passages and confusing graphs.

After some playing around with the layout (because the captions of figures always travel to the next page after you made changes), I finally had the revised version of my paper in my hands. I finally ended up by sending the revised version and my 13-page reply to the reviewers.

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