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My question is simple. When resubmitting a paper after review was done, should I include different response letters to each reviewer, or should I include my comments addressing each reviewer remark in a single letter?

Edit: I usually send one single letter. However, recently, I was in a situation where the reviewers made only minor comments while the editor had a major issue. I'd think the editor would not necessarily want to share his major comments with the reviewers, so I sent separate letters so the editor might choose which ones to send to the reviewers. This made me think that always sending separate letters is possibly the best practice.

Edit 2: Please note that I'm not asking how to write good response letters in general. I'm sure there are plenty of good advice about that on Academia.SE. I'm particularly interested in pros and cons of using single vs multiple letters.

  • I have always responded to each review suggestion in each row in the order that they appear in the paper. This makes the single page response to review document easier to read and much easier for the suggestions to be compared. However, rather than writing the suggestions as sections based on reviewers (Response to Editor, response to reviewer 1, response to reviewer 2 etc), I grouped the suggestions by where they are relevant in the paper (Abstract, Introduction etc). – user70612 Apr 22 '17 at 7:32
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+50

I write it in a single letter. I think that since your correspondence is with the editor, this is the best practice. After all, you correspond with the associate editor (AE), and it's hers/his role to delegate your responses to the reviewers, if he/she sees a need. It's an important point in my opinion - it emphasizes the AE is not just pushing papers.

The AE has an active role in this. If the AE sees you respond well to the reviews, e.g. when the reviewer just asked some questions / needed clarifications, then the AE might not wait for a response from the reviewer. Further, the AE might see that the reviewers requests had some conflicted comments and that you tried to answer the best you can, etc.

So when you separate your letters, you kind of say "hey AE, this is between me and the reviewers", which is not the case.

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I agree with the prior responses. Typically, the editor does not share the letter with authors' responses with the reviewers. Therefore, there is no need to worry that the reviewers' will see the suggested responses from the editor. Good luck!

  • That's the opposite of what I said. My experience is that the response is shared with the reviewers, for IEEE and ACM publications at least. Other fields may vary, but I wouldn't make a blanket statement. – Fred Douglis Apr 21 '17 at 16:54
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    I'm sorry I missed that in your response, Fred. Yes, I am in a different discipline and I have never received the "Response to the reviewers" letters for articles that have been resubmitted. This is good to know. – Nicole Ruggiano Apr 21 '17 at 18:33
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I think that @Jens already provided the right answer, that usually you answer all the reviewers in a single response. In my experience, all the ACM and IEEE journals I've been involved with as author/reviewer/editor share the response letter with the reviewers, who then see each other's comments and the authors' response to them.

You describe a somewhat unusual situation here, in which the editor has more major comments than the individual reviewers. Even then, I think I would send a single response, and assume the reviewers are going to see the response to the previous submission, including the editor's concerns. If you have reason to think otherwise, asking the editor the question you have posed here seems appropriate.

By the way, in my experience usually the letter from the journal says specifically that the authors are to respond to the comments and explain how they have addressed each concern.

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Usually, you sent back one single letter in which you answer the reviewers questions one by one. I always start with a short note to the editor, listing the major revisions done as bullet points. I also thank the reviewers for their time spent on the review and that their comments advanced my manuscript (of course I write this only if the review really improved my work). Then I start with "Reviewer 1" and list each of his questions or remarks and mark my comments either in bold or in a different color.

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    Agreed. You are talking to the editor, not the reviewers. The editor may or may not share parts of the letter with one or more of the reviewers. Probably not, unless he wants a response from that reviewer. – GEdgar Apr 17 '17 at 21:33
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    A slight aside, I always found putting this information as a table made it easier to read. – user70612 Apr 18 '17 at 0:11

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