How to prepare an article for resubmission, Part II

You don’t want the reviewers to even read your revised manuscript.

In my previous post on how to prepare an article for resubmission, I failed to mention one important point: In your response to the reviewers, quote the entire referee report, even the introductory sentences. Don’t just quote the specific comments to which you are replying. This may seem unnecessary but it is in fact crucial, in particular if the introductory sentences were largely positive. (If they were highly critical, you may want to omit them, even though in this case you probably should provide a response.)

Keep in mind that when the revised manuscript goes back to the editor and the previous reviewers, neither will remember the exact thoughts they had when they previously looked at your manuscript. In addition, the reviewers may never actually have seen the comments of the other reviewers. And finally, most editors and reviewers will look at your response to the reviewer comments before they look at anything else related to your manuscript. Thus, this is your opportunity to remind the editor and the reviewers that your manuscript overall was judged to be interesting and valuable, even if there were some issues to be addressed. By not quoting these comments, you only highlight the critical aspects of the previous reviews. For the same reasons, it is often a good idea to start the response with a brief summary of the overall reviewer sentiments, such as: “Reviewers 1 and 2 thought the manuscript addressed an important topic and had only minor comments. Reviewer 3 was more critical but also acknowledged the timeliness of our work.”

Claus O. Wilke
Professor of Integrative Biology


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