Tips for submitting the revised manuscript

Since 2015 when I did my first review for Ocean engineering, I have reviewed more than 70 journal papers (during 6 years till now) in my field mostly from Elsevier and Springer. I have made some mistakes but could learn a lot about how is a good revision. According to my experience, sometimes the second review can be very challenging, partly because some authors do not prepare an appropriate response letter (RL). Reviewer #2 may always be grumpy, but (s)he may have good reasons for that.

A good and informative RL may have an equal impact on the reviewer compared to the manuscript itself and facilitates the review to be faster and fairer, in my opinion. So, I am going to share some tips for preparing a response letter from a reviewer's point of view.

1- Start your RL with appreciating the editor and reviewers' time and comments, which has improved the quality of the manuscript (even if not!). They may have been wrong in some cases, but if there is no conflict of interest, they are not your enemy. In their mind, they have been doing right.

2- Import the reviewers' comments into the RL. I have received revised manuscripts that only included their own responses in RL and answered 7-8 comments with short sentences in just a half-page. In that case, the reviewer should see the original review from the system again to recognize the questions. This definitely has a negative impact on the review.

3- Style your RL, but keep it as simple as possible. Use horizontal lines to separate comments. You can put the reviewers' comments or your answers in the boxes, or you can use different text colors for questions and answers. My suggestion is to avoid using red color for the answers. It may have a psychologically negative impact and drag the reviewers to the defense mode, or at least, make their eyes tired (again this is just my opinion)! Dark blue is always a proper and conservative choice.

4- Refer to the modifications in the text. This is, in my opinion, the most important point. If you make any modification, just do not answer with: "text was modified". You need to refer to the page and line number, where modifications have been done. For example, you can write: "The text was modified. Please see page X, line Y).

5- Some journals require the authors to submit a version of the manuscript in which the modifications have been MARKED. You can highlight the modified text or use a different text color to show the modifications. Even if you do this, do not forget #4 (i.e., refer to the modified part of the text).

6- It is a good idea to import the modified text into RL, under the response to each comment. Use quotation marks for the copied modified text. For example:

1) The authors need to explain.........

Response: The manuscript was modified to clarify the issue. Please see page X, line Y.

    "The model shows that ......."

First, finalize the modifications in your manuscript with your co-authors, and then, import the last modifications into RL.

If you modified any figure or table, you can show them in RL, too.

7- Even if you disagree with the reviewer, try to convince them in a smooth way, and do not attack. If possible, find a way to modify the manuscript in a way to consider the viewpoints from both the reviewer and yourself.


8- If you can't modify the manuscript according to the reviewer's will, and can't convince her/him, put a third option on the table!


9- Good luck