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Scientific writing: how to respond to reviewers in your scientific research article?

If you want to publish an article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, you must first submit your article for publication. The publication editor then submits your article through a rigorous evaluation process by a panel of external reviewers chosen by the editor. These reviewers then rate your article and send their comments to the editor along with their recommendations for or against publishing the article in the journal. The editor makes the final decision on whether or not to publish your article. Many academic journals recruit professors and other scholars who are experts in their fields to take on this role, reviewing, evaluating, and determining the validity of their article data and references.

Sometimes reviewers decide that your article can be published "as is", which means that it does not require any changes on your part. In most cases, however, improvements or revisions to the manuscript are suggested. These reviews can be minor or substantial, but you should still be ready to respond correctly if they return your scientific paper a month or two after submitting it.

But how exactly do you handle the review process? What specific standards should you keep in mind when responding to comments or questions?

Here is a list of the most important things to accomplish:

- You must be thorough and respond to each comment individually. I recommend doing this just below the reviewer's comment and breaking your answer into multiple points if necessary.

-Your response must be clear, specific, and take into account any concerns of the reviewer.

Respect the improvements your co-workers suggest and include them all on your paper.

Highlight your responses in yellow so your reviewers can easily identify them, and provide clean, highlighted versions if possible.

Clearly state where you made the desired enhancements, write down the page number and explain how you changed it.

Copy and paste the first sentence or phrase just below the reviewer's comment and your revised sentence or phrase, and paste it in an easy-to-understand "before and after" sequence to make sure your message is clear.

Use quotation marks, bold, and italics to clearly separate the reviewer's comment, response, and changes to the manuscript.

Be courteous and respectful. Be considerate and thank the reviewers for their comments.

Don't take reviews or questions personally or as criticism. In fact, change requests mean that reviewers will want to publish your article and will give you the opportunity to adapt your article to your journal's standards.

Take it as a compliment! Even if you think the reviewers' comments are not fair, respond to them with respect.

If you return the article without making certain improvements, please defend those options in an appropriate reviewer comment.

Explain why changes cannot be made and provide a compelling case in those cases.

If you disagree with an auditor at some point, you must still respect the auditor's perspective and integrity.

But ultimately, your choice is to incorporate the change or not. Your article will be published with your name and the reviewer's name will not be mentioned.

When submitting your response to the reviewers, be sure to include a cover letter with the editor explaining that you have modified the manuscript based on the reviewers' concerns and that you want to resubmit it for review.

Good luck with your shipment! Sophie is a neuroscientist with a passion for scientific writing and high-quality scientific research. She has published several articles on human genetics.

Scientific writing and publishing courses - Complete self-paced, academic style training program in writing and publishing scientific manuscripts for faculty, students, and researchers.
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