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I submitted a paper and got it back with a major revision recommendation. There were many revision comments, and to answer some of them, I added appendices. Now I got the paper back with a second major revision (with many other comments). When I look at the paper as a whole, I see that it has now grown very long. Moreover, some of the results I put in appendices are stand-alone results that can potentially be published separately. I would like to remove these appendices from the paper and make them stand-alone technical reports (e.g. put them on arXiv). This has several advantages: shortening the original paper, increasing the visibility of the side-results, and maybe allowing me to expand them and publish them as a separate paper.

My question is: is it common for an author to do such a thing during the revision process? I understand that I can ask for the editor's opinion, but I would like to know how common is it to ask for such a thing?

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What is common is for the author to improve the paper as much as possible, hopefully making the reviewers happy. What you suggest makes sense, though so would factoring out the removed material into other formal publications sooner rather than later.

You could ask the editor, making your case, or you could just resubmit your best version according to your current understanding. I'd include a note as to what you have done along with your reasoning.

But there is no reason why you can't also prepare the long version in parallel, in case the editor would rather have that.

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Reviewers may be unhappy if you remove appendices that you initially added in order to address their comments. Since it is your paper, not theirs, it is your decision to make in the end, and what you propose here seems to make a lot of sense. If you choose to do this, however, it can't hurt to manage the reviewers' expectations by clearly and carefully explaining why you do what you do. In journals where I publish, any revision must be accompanied by a letter were I outline how I have addressed the reviewers' comments; this would be the ideal location to make your case. As long as the reviewers feel that you take their concerns seriously, I see no reason why you can't do what you propose here.

Buffy's suggestion to ask the editor also makes a lot of sense.

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