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Navigating peer review: Part 4 - How to respond to peer reviewer comments – Minor revisions

We talked about receiving an editorial decision of ‘major revisions required’ in our blog post yesterday. The other very common outcome for a research article following initial peer review, indeed the outcome that you really want as an author, is the editorial decision ‘minor revisions required’. This means that the peer reviewers who looked at your paper following initial submission have decided that just small, minor changes will be necessary before it can be accepted for publication. Good news!

This decision also means that from the journal’s perspective one of their editorial board members or the editor will now make a decision about your submission following revisions and that your article will likely not be returned to the peer reviewers. Having said this, it’s still hugely important to follow the ‘response to review’ document writing steps we outlined in the blog yesterday and show the editor that you are taking the process seriously. Address all minor comments comprehensively and try, if possible, to make all the changes to your paper that you are being asked to make.

  • Can you compromise?
  • Do you really disagree so strongly with that comment?
  • Does it matter if you tweak that figure, use a different font or colour?
  • Include an extra data sampling point here or there?

Provide another data table in your supplementary information. Your preferred outcome now is rapid publication in your target journal!

You will want to take your time to make sure you do a good, comprehensive job revising your paper, while at the same time adhering to the deadline given to you by the journal. Publishing schedules are set months if not years in advance and so the quicker your paper is back in a journal workflow system at this stage, the faster it will be copyedited, proofed, typeset, receive a document identification number (DOI), and appear online. Journals always get bottlenecked in late November and December as authors scramble to try to ensure their papers are stamped with that years date rather than the next one!

In summary, a decision of ‘minor revisions required’ is a very good outcome for a submitted article. Take your time, however, to ensure that you do make all requested changes and write a comprehensive ‘response to reviews’ document. Do a careful final check (including a careful spelling check) before sending your files back to the journal: this might be the last time you see your paper before it is typset and you check the proofs. Ensure all your figures, tables, and supplementary files are ready for publication. There’s nothing worse than silly mistakes in published articles!

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