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03/04/2022

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Take no sh*t

If I were the OP, I would put the extra section in the letter, fully addressing the reviewer's comments, and then add a more brief, footnote-length discussion in the manuscript. Then in the letter I would explain why I think the more brief treatment is sufficient. So, show that you can do the work, but make the case for why it wouldn't improve the paper.
Anecdotally, I was once in the opposite sort of situation, where a reviewer's comments led me to cut something that I would have preferred to keep. In later discussions of the paper, I kept finding myself coming back to the section I'd removed, and explaining how I *would have* developed my view, but for a reviewer. So I now see the paper as much worse than it could have been because I too quickly acceded to a reviewer's demands, and I really regret it. I know we're all in publish or perish mode, and that satisfying reviewers is often what it takes to avoid the "perish" bit. But this is also your work we're talking about here, and you've got to be able to look at it and be happy with the final product when everything is said and done.

Assistant Professor

I appreciate Marcus's reply that if something is an issue for one reviewer it might also be an issue for another - and for that reason the author should take it seriously - but I don't think it is fair to assume that because something is an issue for one reviewer that reviewer is correct.

I would encourage the OP to take the reviewer's remarks seriously, but that doesn't require doing exactly what the reviewer says. It is important to have good reasons, though, for not following a suggestion and I think it is 100% appropriate to include those reasons (politely and succinctly) in a response to the reviewers when submitting the revision. It might be worth saying something like "the reviewer makes a good point that some readers may not think you can do X without first addressing Y and I have included a footnote to flag readers of this potential concern and why I am bracketing it out in this paper."

Michel

Like the others, I'd opt for a shorter version in the text itself. A footnote is great, but if it seemed like a real sticking point, I'd extend to 200-500 words. But 2000 seems like real overkill, even for the sort of case described.

More generally, I'd say that 2000 words is usually a lot of words for a section.

op

Thanks for the feedback, folks.

Michel, I'd just add that I work in the history of philosophy, where for certain papers, and counting quotations, 2,000 word sections are not uncommon.

another historian

Just for another data point (also a historian of philosophy):
I recently got an R&R for a paper on a topic in period X, where one of the referees wanted me to write a whole new section on the same topic in period Y. (The paper's argument did have implications for period Y, but I'm not an expert on that period, nor did I claim to be, so these implications were just signaled at.)
I explained in the response letter why I'm not going to write that new section -- it would have turned the paper into something quite different, and it was already on the long side with 12k words. The paper got accepted after resubmission.

Hungry Dog

I recently refereed a paper (maybe the OP's!) in which nearly all of my R&R suggestions were handled by the author in newly bloated footnotes, leaving the main text pretty much unchanged.

As I basically liked the paper, I wasn't terribly ticked off. But this way of handling my suggestions -- which I'd spent a LOT of time on -- left the distinct impression the author didn't think much of them, or didn't get the thrust, but felt I had to be pleased in some way. Like I was thrown a bone while the meat of it stayed as it was.

The Footnote Dump, in short, risks offending the referee (though, if my experience is any guide, the risk, or the offense, isn't that great).

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