Our books

Become a Fan

« Reader Question about Work Habits | Main | A VAP's Dilemma »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Taylor M

My strategy is what I consider the usual and obvious response. I'd like to know how others differ. Basically, you now have more audiences: the original reviewer or just the editor, and the editor who wants to know whether you've succeeded in revision.

— Implement all changes and respond to all issues suggested by the reviewer.

—— This maximizes acceptance chances.

—— From a purely epistemological perspective on peer disagreement, objections that seem kind of bad should be treated as fine ones to respond to.

—— You can distance yourself from anticipating what you think are bad objections by mentioning/thanking an anonymous reviewer for bringing it up.

— Explain/reconstruct good versions of reviewer comments and how they have been addressed in the most charitable way.

—— Even dumb suggestions and silly misunderstandings are evidence that you didn't anticipate them occurring in the way they did; if you need to explain why the reviewer is in error it probably should just be revised instead.

——— Remember, the editor knows the reviewer and you, as it is not triple-anonymous reviewing (usually). Fighting with someone the editor considers an authority might make you look bad, even if you are technically right.

—— Make this as short and straightforward as possible, so the editor gets how you've succeeded without needing to see the nitty gritty details unless they want to.

—— It's possible you'll get another randomly chosen reviewer. They might be sympathetic to your paper in light of how you've done your best with previous revision suggestions.

——— E.g., they see you replying to what they think is a bad concern by past reviewer - normally countering an unmotivated or bad objection is a point against the paper, but its totally excusable in this case.

— Save old versions of your paper, enable "track changes" in Word or your writing program, etc. This avoids the need for some second spreadsheet or other document.

—— This also let's you just delete stuff and whatever without hesitation, since you'll later look at the original to see if you've accidentally deleted something good


I've had something like 5-6 R+R's and all of them were eventually accepted. So I can say a few things.

I was recently at a workshop where I was really surprised that many of my pre-tenure colleagues were getting R+R's, revising and resubmitting, but getting rejected. I've never had that experience. So they expressed mild exasperation about not knowing what's going wrong. I think one problem is that graduate advisors are slightly dropping the ball here: they should be more involved in teaching young philosophers how to successfully handle R+R's. However, I did hear that some people's advisors haven't *ever* had an R+R, or haven't had one for many years, and so maybe the advisor doesn't even know. ...yeesh.

I don't use a spreadsheet. What I do is enter the referee comments into a .tex or .word file (whatever text editor you prefer). I then separate out the comments into distinct units. Sometimes this is a sentence, sometimes it's a paragraph. I then number them. This will be the framework for my resubmission report.

After each numbered comment, I respond with what I did (or didn't do) in my revision to address it. But I speak to *all* of them, even if I think they're stupid and not worth discussing in my paper. You should at least address every point in your resubmission report.

Now, determining which ones you *need* to address in your paper (and whether you can just get away with a footnote) is a matter of judgment. Here, journal editors should be more helpful than they typically are. If you're not sure from the R+R report which are the most key points that the editor wants covered, *ask them*! It's totally fair game to email the editor and say: "Hello. Thank you for sending the referee reports. I'm finding them helpful. However, I'm hoping you can give me some direction on which points you think are most pressing, and which are more minor. This would help me in streamlining my revisions. Thank you..." Something like that. Sometimes the editor will not be helpful, but usually they'll tell you at least something useful. Moreover, it really is their job to help you at this stage, even though most aren't aware of this. (I digress!!)

Some points you can handle in a footnote. Others will require changes to the body of your paper. If the referee raises a question that doesn't seem *really* stupid to me, I often put the question and my response into the body of the paper. Often, I'll write, "One might object that..." and then fill in the referee's objection. I may or may not put in a footnote thanking the anonymous referee for this objection. Usually I do, though.

I definitely *do not* implement all changes suggested. I pick and choose what I think will actually improve the paper, and what will satisfy the referee(s). Editors don't expect you to incorporate everything. It's still *your* paper, and there are some things where you can dig your heels in.

For example, in one of my early papers, I spent about 5-6 pages on one person's argument. The referee said that this person's argument was obvious and that I should just cut out my discussion of it. I totally disagreed, and so I said so and explained *why* I disagreed in my resubmission report. ...I got to keep the whole section in the accepted version. In other cases, where wordcount was more pressing, I acquiesced to suggestions to cut out entire sections (or drastically condense them). Don't always view your referees as adversaries: often, they really *are* trying to help you improve the paper!

In your resubmission report, as you explain how you responded, don't go into detail: summarize in a couple sentences (or less!). Give page numbers/footnote numbers where the changes are in the paper. (I do *not* use 'track changes' for my resubmissions. I think that's a bad idea.) Do "Save as" your revised paper, though. I agree that you should keep the previous version of your submission.

Send the resubmission report as a separate document along with your revised paper.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Subscribe to the Cocoon

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory


Subscribe to the Cocoon