13

I usually spent an incredible amount of time answering the questions raised by reviewers when submitting research manuscripts to a journal. The length of the response is often longer than the paper itself. Such a process, albeit time consuming, has significantly improved the quality of the work.

Since there are many thoughts that can not be delivered in the paper, which are elaborated in the response of the reviewers, I am wondering whether it is good to upload the response online along with the paper? (e.g., research profile page) I think this will benefit the readers but am not sure what might be the consequences resulting from that? Do note that I don't have any clue as to the reviewers' identities.

  • 3
    In case you're interested, there are some journals in the biological sciences where this is standard. For example, at the EMBO journal you can click "Review Process File" under "Transparent Process" emboj.embopress.org/content/33/16/1740.transparent-process and at eLIFE you can click "Decision Letter" elifesciences.org/content/3/e03245/article-info#decision-letter to read the editor/reviewer comments and the author responses. – ping Aug 26 '14 at 23:16
  • 2
    Could you give some examples? In most cases, I would think review responses would correspond to stuff that can and should go into the paper. – Nate Eldredge Aug 27 '14 at 0:43
  • @NateEldredge Agree. Either it's irrelevant misunderstanding, or it should go into the paper. Or not? – yo' Aug 27 '14 at 13:57
  • 1
    @NateEldredge Thanks for the suggestion, the time I spent most for respond is exactly like the question New_new_newbie has raised: "why the approach in the paper conflicts some sacred tenet?" These discussions are not supposed to be incorporated in the paper, but are useful for the readers as they may think in the same way. – Chenming Zhang Aug 27 '14 at 21:28
  • I added a relevant comment to new_new_newbie's answer. – Nate Eldredge Aug 27 '14 at 21:37
9

You are free to post your response as you see fit, If you know who the reviewer(s) is/are then you may need to think twice about mentioning their name(s) since. I am not sure how you may be thinking of posting such comments but I assume you will rewrite them into some form of self-contained text. As such it would not be very different from a blog entry and so one suggestion would be to use a blog type web to add comments around your publications. You may also provide means for commenting on your papers and associated posts.

But, in short, no problem posting your own thoughts but stay clear of adding the thoughts of others that may be given in a context other than open posts.

  • 1
    And if/when they are known, you can just ask them if they let you post their comments. – Davidmh Aug 26 '14 at 23:46
  • Yes, asking is always a good strategy – Peter Jansson Aug 26 '14 at 23:47
5

(I request that this answer may be viewed as an addendum to Pete's nice answer here, in light of Nate's comment above.)

As Nate pointed out, most of the typical referee responses would be concerned with stuff that should enter the manuscript. So, assuming that all his useful suggestions were incorporated in the text itself, there isn't generally more meat from that conversation that could warrant a separate 'response log' to be uploaded anywhere (I'm assuming on arXiv, for example).

But the impression that I get from the question is that, OP is inquiring about suggestions that go deeper than the above paragraph. In some cases, it is possible that referee queries stuff on the lines of

How is [a fact that you established on the basis of your calculation in the manuscript] consistent with [a sacred tenet, or a well-established or experimentally verified result] ? Aren't the two incompatible because of [some qualitative reasoning, devised by the referee]?

The reasoning looks valid to you, so you sit down and calculate the implications of your calculation on the established fact, and find that the two are indeed compatible. Then, you identify a weakness in the qualitative reasoning, and let the referee know about this. Now, all this isn't worthy of being included in the text of your manuscript, since it is off-track from the overall theme of the work. Yet, this is a valuable piece of information, and is likely to help future readers because they may also reason this apparent contradiction. Responses of this kind are worthy of being put up. Occasionally, one encounters those one-page or two-page ''Comment on [a paper]'' sort of things on arXiv, so these can definitely be put up too. It doesn't necessarily have to be journal article manuscript always.

Lastly, regarding acknowledging the referee, there are two options - either take their permission (ref - Pete's answer), or you simply acknowledge ''the anonymous referee'' for pointing it out, in case option 1 doesn't work out. I know some instances where this has been done in my field, but one example that I can find is over here. Sorry, there isn't any corresponding arXiv version for this, so if you can't access it directly, here's the relevant excerpt:

The author would like to thank the anonymous referee for making insightful comments which have been helpful in improving and updating the manuscript.

But seriously, option 1 is the better option (why strip the poor guy of his due credit!).

Hope that helps.

  • 2
    Well, I don't know the details, and this could be culture/field dependent, but in such a case I'd be tempted to say something in the paper anyway. "The reader may be concerned that our result appears to conflict with [sacred tenet] because of [referee's reasons]. However, this is not the case, because of [brief sketch of why the conflict doesn't really exist]." If the referee had this concern, surely other readers might as well? – Nate Eldredge Aug 27 '14 at 21:36
  • @NateEldredge - You are right, that could be an option. But like I'd said in the answer, it will mostly be off-track from the theme of the paper. Also, if the paper is something like a letter communication, where there is a word or page-restriction, you can't go on and on. The way I'm imagining this question being posed is the way it goes in PhD qualifying oral exams - you describe, e.g. how your devised plan is going to work, and there is a big prof on the other side of the table who stumps you with a plain ''But this is inconsistent with ... How can this be right?'' remark. – 299792458 Aug 28 '14 at 5:25
  • @NateEldredge - (contd.) So, while proving consistency is a very important requirement in such situations, it isn't that in a subsequent presentation, you include this consistency argument. The way it goes is - I've shown that there is an overall consistency, now believe rest of what I say! Thus, while consistency is important, that's not the subject you are addressing. But, of course, you may be right, maybe it could be field-dependent. Nevertheless, thanks :) – 299792458 Aug 28 '14 at 5:30
  • Yeah, okay. In my field (math) it's not unusual to write with a more pedagogical tone, where you really try to help the reader follow the argument, and point out possible pitfalls. Also, we rarely have strict page limits (and if one journal does, you can usually find an equally good journal that doesn't). – Nate Eldredge Aug 28 '14 at 5:38
  • @NateEldredge - I'm not saying that mine (Physics) doesn't have pedagogic papers, but it is a mixed bag - some pedagogic and some totally cryptic. However, cryptic and concise aren't really synonyms (to me at least). And conciseness is appreciated in letters (page restrictions etc.) and even otherwise. – 299792458 Aug 28 '14 at 5:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.