How to reply to peer review comments when submitting papers for publication
The length of a response depends on the complexity of the question. I’ve edited two-page letters to reviewers, and I’ve edited 30-page letters. A letter to a reviewer should be as long as it needs to be to allow you to prove you’ve considered the criticism you received.
When you agree with a reviewer
This is the simplest case. Acknowledge your mistake and confirm you’ve corrected it.
- We thank the reviewer for pointing this out. We have revised
- We have removed
- We agree and have updated
- We have fixed the error
- This observation is correct. We have changed
- We have made the change. The new sentence reads as follows
When you disagree with a reviewer’s comment
Choose your words carefully when drafting your response. First, emphasize any part of the reviewer’s comment you agree with. Then explain why you chose not to make the change.
- We agree with the reviewer that further elaborating on this point using new data would be helpful. However, we believe that expanding our dataset is neither feasible, given the costs involved, nor would significantly support our argument. For this reason, we chose not to make this change, but we added the following sentence to paragraph 3 in the discussion: “Though having a larger dataset would offer further insight…”.
- We apologize if our original Figure 2 did not show…. We did not intend to…. We have modified the figure and hope that it is now clear that…. We believe that adding a new figure, as the reviewer suggested, would be unnecessary given that our new Figure 2 shows….
- We appreciate the reviewer’s insightful suggestion and agree that it would be useful to demonstrate that…; however, such an analysis is beyond the scope of our paper, which aims only to show that…. Nevertheless, we recognize this limitation should be mentioned in the paper, so we added the following sentence….
In sum, whether you agree or disagree with the reviewer, aim to prove that you understood their comments and took them seriously.