Receiving comments from reviewers can be exhilarating and frustrating. Some comments may be reasonable, but you may disagree with other comments. Whatever the comments, you are more likely to have a positive response if you take the time to respond to all of the reviewer’s comments thoughtfully and politely.

One way to do this is to start by numbering each comment. Read each comment carefully, think about the comment, what the reviewer meant and a potential response. To make sure you have addressed all of the comments, you can develop a table with the following columns:

  • Comment number
  • Reviewer’s comment
  • What the reviewer means
  • My response

The table can provide a framework for you to talk to other authors about the reviewer’s comments. Here are a few suggestions for developing your responses:

  • As you begin to answer the reviewer’s comments, think how you would feel if you were the reviewer and you made these comments. You would want the author to know what part(s) of the manuscript were confusing and what information was needed for clarity and improvement.
  • Imagine the reviewers are talking to you. As you address each comment, ask yourself if your response answers the reviewer’s concern and addresses the point the reviewer was making.
  • Respond to each comment, whether or not you agree with the comment. Whatever your response, it is helpful for the reviewer to know you read the comment and considered it. Provide a reason or explanation for your disagreement or agreement. This will help the reviewer and editor evaluate your responses, and either accept your answers or send you additional comments.

When you are happy with your responses to the reviewer’s comments, give the comments, your responses and the revised manuscript to a colleague, professor or friend for honest feedback. Listen to the comments you receive and continue to revise the manuscript and your response accordingly. When completed, you are ready to submit your response to the reviewer’s comments and the revised manuscript to the journal.

Tip: Organize your reviewer’s comments so you can respond to them thoughtfully and politely.

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