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« What should I bear in mind when I receive a verdict from a journal? Guest post by the Editors of Analysis (2 of 4) | Main | What to do as an author when a paper takes forever to go into print? »



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I have never really worried about it. AJP are (or at least used to be) sticklers about word count, so I never tried to push it with them. But I have gone several thousand words over the word limit with major revisions many times. It has never really been a problem. It only made a difference once: my original submission was basically at the word limit, I made many changes in response to referee comments, and then upon acceptance, the editors just asked me to remove all my responses to the reviewer comments in order to get back within the word limit.... I suspect that many journals set their word limits lower than they need to in order to allow sufficient slack for authors to respond to reviewer comments (but this is just a hunch).


I think the response given in the OP may be the best general advice that can be given. But I also don't think general advice is very useful here: it *really* depends on the specifics. Sometimes papers do need to balloon.

What I will say, in case any editors are reading this, is that I have found explicit editorial guidance on this question--and more generally about which revisions suggested by the reviewers the editor deems to be important--extremely helpful. I wish every R&R came with a brief note from the editor saying what they think needs to be done (and whether they think it would be appropriate/acceptable to increase the word count to do it).

Trevor Hedberg

If you are concerned about the length of your submission expanding too much in response to reviewer comments, you can always send the editor or managing editor an email asking how much of an increase in length they consider acceptable. Different journals have different standards / expectations in this regard. In my own experience, length post-R&R has never been an issue that got in the way of publication.

academic migrant

AJP gave me specific requirements on R&R twice, once going 300 words over the normal limit. I agree that editors should try to be clearer, and at least should think about this issue.


"Learn to write lean" is good advice. Even if you "get away with it", i.e., have a bloated but published paper, your readers are more likely to put it down halfway through.

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