Request for revision – be polite

Remember that you are dealing with people, not just a faceless submission system. The Editor-in-Chief and the reviewers are just like you—they have feelings, likes and dislikes, and many other
calls on their time. They are not infallible, but offer their comments to help you to improve your paper.

Thank the Editor/reviewer for their comments, and respond with courtesy to each one.

Tips for considering the reviewerRequest for revision - be polite

The reviewer is busy
  • Reviewers are not paid. They have their own research and teaching to do. They agree to review papers as a service to science.
  • That means they offer their expertise to you for no reward.
  • Maybe he didn’t have time to write his comments carefully.
  • If he misunderstood your paper, respond tactfully. Perhaps it’s an indication that you did not make your meaning clear.
The reviewer has his own character, culture, and quirks
  • Every reviewer is an individual. Some are kind, some are critical, some are argumentative.
  • Every culture has its own characteristics too. Perhaps the reviewer comes from a culture that prides itself in being direct.
  • What ever the case, do not take it personally. Most journals operate a blind review process, so the reviewer does not even know who you are.
The reviewer might not write in good English
  • It’s annoying if his comments are badly written. Especially annoying if he has criticised your English!
  • Remember that many of the journal’s readers will also not have good English. Therefore aim to write in simple, clear English as far as possible. Don’t use complicated English just to show off your English skills.
The reviewer might not be an expert in your precise area of study
  • So why did he accept the invitation to review? Well, perhaps he was flattered by the invitation. Or he wanted to gain favour with the Editor-in-Chief. Or he felt it his duty.
  • Often the Editor-in-Chief will find it difficult to find enough reviewers for an article, especially if it is a narrow field of study.
  • Many reviewers reject the offer to review, so you should always be grateful to those who are willing, no matter how harsh they appear.

In summary: the reviewer is a busy researcher who offers his time and expertise to ensure the best papers get published by offering advice on improving your paper. He is not infallible, nor is he an expert in everything. The Editor-in-Chief invited him to review, and therefore expects you to respond to the reviewers comments. Therefore, be tactful, be appreciative, be factual, and above all, don’t take comments personally.

Back to Handling a Request for Revision