While I tend to write articles quite quickly, whenever revisions come back from a journal, I find myself taking forever to finish them. Part of the problem is just that my mind is no longer in the same head-space as when I wrote the article, and so getting back into it is difficult. Also, changing the structure/flow of the paper after the fact I find painstaking.

Are there any good strategies for speeding up the revision process?

Just for context, I’m a PhD student in the social sciences, and work more with theory than with data.

  • It's much worse in experimental fields, where, in case of particularly long review time, one might have already dismantled the experiment by the time the reviewers' comments arrive. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 19:47
  • 3
    I think the problem starts when you "write articles quite quickly". After you finish the draft instead of submitting it immediately wait a week or so (doing nothing with it) and then read it carefully again, with a cleared mind, like it is someone else's work you see for the first time. If you find some parts that are unclear, rewrite them - you'll minimise the number of comments in the review. Note that the paper has to be understandable in 1, 10, 50 years from now - if in a few years you can't say what/how/why you did in it, then it's badly written from the start. Clear paper => easier rev.
    – user68958
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 20:40
  • Further to corey's comment, you could, once you have submitted the article, print yourself off a copy and hand-write notes on it to remind your future-self of your headspace. It reminds me of writing comments on code. If you write program, you should write comments; not just for others, but also for you, should your code ever need review.
    – Will R
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 8:14

1 Answer 1

  1. Give working on the revision the highest priority within your research tasks. After all, this is the last step before getting your results published, so it's best to get that off your table as fast as possible!
  2. As first step when you get the reviews, go through them carefully and note / mark every comment which you think requires you to revise something. Then, for each marked comment, make a plan how to address that point, and think about what a good sequence for working on the comments would be. For me it works better to first address the more large-scale points, but that may of course differ from one person to the other.
  3. Deal with each comment one-by-one: make the required revision in the paper, and directly after (or maybe before) that write the corresponding response to the reviewer's comment in your response letter.

If you have a comment that raises issues with the overall flow of a section (for example something like "The introduction does not clearly lead to the problem that the author is dealing with."), it may be most efficient to rewrite that part from scratch instead of trying to revise it. Then you can also simply answer something like "The introduction was completely rewritten to address this point".

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