Staff Suggestions for Addressing Reviewer Comments

To complement the advice from our longtime authors and editorial board members that we shared earlier this week, today we’re sharing suggestions from the Academic Medicine editorial staff. This post is part of a series on tips for addressing reviewer comments during the revisions part of the publication process. You can read the other posts in the series here.

Importance of addressing editor comments

  • Revising your manuscript to address reviewer and editor comments can take a lot of time and effort. You may (understandably!) be tired by the time you get through the reviewer comments. But don’t forget to address the editor comments as well. In fact, prioritize the editor comments if they contradict any of the reviewer comments. Addressing the editor comments now can save time in the editing process and may help to avoid a second round of revisions.

Things to consider during the revisions process

  • Address the spirit of the requested revision … not the letter. Make sure you’re really addressing the reviewer’s concern. If necessary, truly revise (the root means re-see) … that is, don’t just add a few words here or there. What is the reviewer getting at? What is the reviewer worried about? Ask yourself if you have addressed the worry rather than simply the text near the worry.
  • If you disagree with a reviewer’s suggestion, consider making changes to your manuscript to clarify whatever the reviewer may have misunderstood. Even if the reviewer’s requested change may not be relevant to the purpose of your manuscript, consider if there is an idea or argument you can explain in a different way so future readers won’t also misunderstand your work.
  • Check for consistency throughout the text and exhibits – in language and key terms, in data, and even in the revisions themselves. Then ask yourself if the reviewer’s comments, your revisions table, and your actual revisions align.
  • After you’ve addressed all the reviewer and editor comments, take a break. Come back in a couple hours or a day or so with fresh eyes and reread the manuscript in final view (i.e., with the tracked changes hidden) to make sure the text holds together with the revisions incorporated.

Nuts and bolts of addressing reviewer comments

  • Be sure to address all reviewer and editor comments in your revisions table, regardless of whether you decided to implement the suggestion in your manuscript. For manuscripts submitted to Academic Medicine, be sure to confirm that you checked the items included in the checklist at the end of the editor comments.
  • While there is no need to be overly verbose or expansive or technical, good explanations in the revisions table, especially for why you’ve not made a change, are interesting and helpful.
  • When you are tracking your changes, track both your deletions and additions. We want to see them all. It’s OK if it is messy. Note that you generally don’t need to track formatting changes.
  • If you decide to include both a clean and tracked changes version of the main text file, use the page numbers from the tracked version when you describe the changes you made in your revisions table. It’s much easier to find the changes in the tracked version than in the clean version.

Check back tomorrow for more content on addressing reviewer comments, including key takeaways from this series and additional resources for authors.