Sunday, January 04, 2009

Responding to Reviewers

Last week, I reviewed a paper for a journal (the first time I'd been asked to do so). I have to admit that I did find the paper interesting and was sympathetic to a lot of it, but I recommended rejection because it was over-long and primarily a discussion of others without a clear line of argument. I did suggest that some of that might make a useful review article, because it did give a useful taxonomy of positions in the debate, and I also offered some more specific criticisms or responses to particular arguments. I hope that the author found my comments useful.

I've more often been on the other end of the review process, which can still be quite bruising. Given that worthwhile journals generally have acceptance rates of between 5% and 20% I guess even well-established names have to face regular rejection. Maybe the secret is simply to develop tougher skin - and I think a year or two on the job market certainly helps in that respect - because I've certainly been given the advice that you just have to take the rejections and keep trying.

At the moment, I have one revise and resubmit (which I've had back for about a month now) that I want to work on before term starts. It looks like it will require some quite substantial changes. Thankfully, I've just come across this (tongue in cheek) guide to responding to reviewers. Any pointers to more serious advice would be appreciated, or should I follow this?

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