Thursday, December 22, 2011

Handling Reviewer Comments

I posted this on Facebook this morning, but then realized that it might be useful to a broader audience than my family and friends. A short (but sweet) post relaying the best advice I've thus far received about the peer review (publishing) process and how to handle those ego-deflating (and sometimes just plain mean) reviewer comments. 

What to do when you get your reviewer comments back: 

  1. Read through them ONCE - thoroughly but very quickly. 
  2. Promptly close the reviewer document/email and set it aside for at least 2 days. 
  3. Read through the comments a second time (2 days later) w/ a clear head & fury quelled.
  4. Create a list of the issues you can actually attend to (in your own, non-snarky words), a list of things that are beyond your capabilities (e.g. "instead of surveys, you should do interviews"), and a list or note of places where reviewers contradict each other. 
  5. Tackle/check things off the (first) list one at a time. 
  6. Use your lists to write up your report of changes made (& any not made).
  7. When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask the editor for clarification (e.g. what to do about contradictory advice, etc.)
And throughout the whole thing, try to keep reminding yourself that the revisions and criticisms you've received are (deep down ;) meant to help you make your paper even better, and that the reviewers wouldn't have taken the time to craft detailed feedback if they didn't think your contribution was worthwhile. 

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