I'm writing a rebuttal (response to the reviewers) with a group of co-authors. Someone in this group changed all the formulations referencing the text of the review (e.g., "To address this point, we ...") to directly address the reviewer (e.g., "To address your point, we ..."). I find this pretty weird, and have never seen it before – therefore I thought it was common not to directly address the reviewers (in part because in the end it is the editor who decides). Or am I wrong, and this is actually ok and common?

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    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 7, 2021 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


All these things are going to be personal preference, but my take on this is that you are addressing the editor, not the reviewers.

Firstly, it is the editor that has the final say, and the editor that will make the decision on whether you have addressed the reviewers' comments (potentially considering the further opinion of the reviewers).

Secondly, it's always best to to take the personal out of this; it will lead to a less defensive response from the reviewers if they are asked to look at the manuscript again.

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    "my take on this is that you are addressing the editor, not the reviewers": Agreed. This would mean that it is perfectly fine to write something like: To address the reviewer's first point... Sep 6, 2021 at 17:26
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    Completely agree. As a reviewer, I was always addressed as "reviewer #1", "the reviewer", etc... Sep 7, 2021 at 6:11
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    @Alchimista more likely your rebuttal will explain how you are sorry the reviewers misunderstood what you are saying, but what you really meant was X, and obviously the reviewers criticism doesn't apply to that because Y, and you have changed your wording in ways Z, to make it clearer. Sep 7, 2021 at 9:46
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    The original post says they are using the language "To address this point we..." which sounds like a response to reviewers, rather than an appeal. To be honest we also use the terms "rebuttal" and "response to reviews" interchangeably in molecular biology. You write to the editor and say either "the reviewers were wrong" or "the reviewers had a point, we made these changes" and submit it in the same way, there is no distinction. Sep 7, 2021 at 17:08
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    I'd argue that in fact it is not a matter of personal preference. Any response made to an anonymous peer review can be made only to the editor handling the manuscript. At minimum, it displays poor understanding of the peer review system to attempt to address reviewers directly, and that adds friction, which is the last thing you want to do when you are seeking the good will and approval of the editor. Sep 7, 2021 at 19:23

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