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I received a review of my journal manuscript that is not organised in a way to facilitate the author reply. Its main problems are:

  1. Sometimes one long paragraph discusses many related points. Quoting each sentence separately does not separate the ideas but produces rough ideas, and on the other hand, it is difficult to provide an organized answer directly without dividing the reviewer comment into distinct points using my own words. So, is it appropriate to do so? And can I e.g., start my answer with: This comment raised several points which are......, Below, my answer to each of them separately.

  2. Sometimes, the same points are repeated many times in non-contiguous parts, e.g., a summary of a critique at the beginning of the review and some details in another comment and a suggestion concerning the same critique in another part. By following the typical way of answering the reviewer comments, I have to quote each part of the review and provide an answer. By doing so, the result will be: one answer repeated many times with separate, noncontiguous comments. So, is it appropriate to quote the noncontiguous parts that discuss the same idea together, summarise what the reviewer wrote, and then provide my answer?

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    "Quoting each sentence separately does not separate the ideas but produces rough ideas" I have no idea what this means. For me, quoting each sentence separately is the natural option. – lighthouse keeper Feb 14 '18 at 12:57
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It’s always better to quote the reviewers’ text directly. That way, there is no ambiguity as to what you’re responding to. (Moreover, many journals expect you to quote directly!) However, there is certainly no requirement that you must proceed step-by-step and quote everything in the reviewers’ responses exactly as presented. If something is mentioned multiple times, you could list the different references together, and provide one response for the group.

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    When something is mentioned multiple times, you could handle later mentions by saying something like "See response 3" – Dawn Feb 14 '18 at 16:41
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There was no official rule on any journal that I have ever dealt with. It all depends on what the editor would like to see. As long as the editor is OK with you paraphrasing, all will be well.

In the past, I have done exactly what you have suggested. I have also just copied representative remarks from the review and responded to those. Neither one of these approaches were frowned upon.

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I usually just write enough to let the editor know what I've done as a result of the referee's report; very rarely does that involve direct quotations from the report. The most recent referee report that I received ("most recent" being a surrogate for "randomly chosen") had 13 specific suggestions, many of them just corrections of typos. My note to the editors said that I incorporated all of the suggestions and then commented specifically on 3 of them (2 because they involved nontrivial changes in the paper, and 1 because I originally disagreed but then decided that the referee was right). Most of my responses to referee reports follow the same pattern --- comment where it's important but don't comment on trivialities and don't copy much if anything from the referee's report. I've never had a complaint from an editor about this. (I wouldn't be surprised if other fields have editors who insist on having authors copy and reply to all comments, but it seems rather silly to me.)

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