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We recently received a "revision" notification for a submission in a good journal. The reviewers raised a few valid concerns. In addition to the reviews, the notification e-mail also contained a summary by the editor. The editor asked us to make a change which was not explicitly requested by any of the reviewers, but could be read as a wrong interpretation of one particular reviewer comment. Performing the change would take a substantial amount of work.

Would we hurt our chances if we didn't address the editor's summary, including the comment?

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    It would hurt your chances. An editor can be a reviewer and in my experience, responsible editors tend to read an assigned article also to make sure the reviewers are not barking up the wrong tree or are being unfair. In your case, given that your editor has made a comment not raised by any reviewers, you will have to address his/her comments, even if you are emailing him/her for clarification. Your best bet like any reviewer comments is to simply address the comments if they are valid, and if not, provide reasons. – Prof. Santa Claus Dec 16 '17 at 8:46
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    @Prof.SantaClaus that's really an answer (and a good one) rather than a comment – user2390246 Dec 16 '17 at 9:20
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Your best bet here is probably to contact the editor requesting clarification on what’s being requested before you put in a lot of work. Perhaps something along these lines:

Dear $EDITOR, we welcome the reviewers’ feedback and would like to obtain clarification on the recommended changes. Reviewer 1 has suggested $THING1 but the summary proposes $THING2, which is different because of $REASONS and would be a broader change. Could you please clarify whether these broader changes are required, or if it will be sufficient for us to address $THING1?

Or, if you really don't want to do $THING2:

Dear $EDITOR, we welcome the reviewers’ feedback and would like to obtain clarification on the recommended changes. Reviewer 1 has suggested $THING1 but the summary proposes $THING2, which is different because of $REASONS. It is not feasible for us to do $THING2 because of the amount of extra time this would involve. Would it be acceptable for us to submit a revision that addresses $THING1 without the broader changes implied by $THING2?

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    Only write this if you are to some extent open to the option of doing THING2. If you're set against it for whatever reason, you need to make your reasons clear from the start. – user2390246 Dec 16 '17 at 9:23
  • @user2390246 good point, I've edited my answer to acknowledge this possibility. – Geoffrey Brent Dec 16 '17 at 10:28
  • On these lines. +1 for answer and comment. However I would formulate more carefully trying to politely makes the editor answer to be " yes I mean the same as reviewer # "....... It is most likely the case that the editor misrepresented the wish of the referees as his her letter was a resume. – Alchimista Dec 16 '17 at 12:42
  • @Alchimista I agree, definitely want to nudge the editor towards whatever makes the least work for the authors! Any suggestions for how to tweak the wording in that direction? – Geoffrey Brent Dec 16 '17 at 22:39
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    Well we would need to see right the editor letter. I think OP got what you mean, as well as what we the commenter means. – Alchimista Dec 17 '17 at 14:34

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