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I received a template from a senior student where every response to the reviewer's question begins with thanking the reviewer. For instance,

Question 1: Please resize Figure 4.

The authors thank reviewer #4 for the suggestion. We....

Question 2: Why was this test performed?

The authors thank reviewer #4 for the insightful question. We....

It seems a bit odd to thank the reviewer for each and every question. Then again, this seems to be a popular format for the journal. I have already prepared a response file in this pattern, but just before uploading it I had second thoughts. Should I go in and remove the thanks from every question, or is this a common / expected pattern?

EDIT: This is meant to go to an IEEE journal for Remote Sensing.

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    Personally, I find the above format annoying. I only thank reviewers once at the beginning. Then, I get into the crux of the matter; addressing their comments as opposed to beating around bush with niceties. My philosophy is simply that reviewers are busy people. Be professional and get to the issue quickly and cleanly. – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 28 '17 at 22:10
  • There may also be a cultural aspect involved; what one culture considers overly polite may be considered a normal level of politeness in another. It's also possible that that's just a matter of it being a template and you're supposed to choose which ones to use the thanks for. – JAB Apr 29 '17 at 19:26
19

I'm in the social and health sciences, so etiquette in your discipline may differ (though I doubt it).

I have never done this. Generally, I thank the editors and reviewers for their time and effort in the body of the response letter, but I stick to business in the individual comments. There may be a really exceptional comment by a reviewer that I may thank them for (suggesting a specific citation I didn't think of or identifying an oversight, where addressing it may improve the manuscript immensely). So, basically my individual responses look more like "As suggested by reviewer #1, we have added additional literature about topic x in the introduction...We have revised figure 2 so that it more clearly displays the findings."

Hope that helps!

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    +1. I like this answer but I think I'd thank the reviewers more often than only in "really exceptional comments". But you should definitely not thank the reviewer for pointing out a minor remark or when they are being excessively critic so as not to sound passive-aggressive. – Shake Baby Apr 29 '17 at 4:21
  • My policy is that I thank the reviewer when the comment asks for a clear improvement which I agree is relevant: I thank for catching typos and mistakes that could really confuse the reader, for legitimate ways to improve the presentation etc. I do not thank for questions, or for comments that are superficial (harmless typos, details in punctuation, etc.), or for changes which I believe to be useless but made just of courtesy (e.g., asking to change a word for no clear reason, etc.). – a3nm Aug 31 '18 at 10:36
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This is completely unnecessary and, honestly, looks like you're grovelling. Replies to reviewers are mostly there to indicate that you've considered everything they suggested, to draw their attention to the changes you've made and to allow you to explain why you're not making certain suggested changes. By all means thank the reviewer for anything particularly insightful and thank them if the review as a whole was particularly useful, but there's no need to thank them for every single comment individually and tell them that every word they wrote was amazing and changed your life. It just looks insincere.

I would suggest something along the lines of:

Question 1: Please resize Figure 4.

Done.

Question 2: Why was this test performed?

This was to check that the decreased widget performance really was because of interference from space aliens. We have inserted an explanation of this below the description of the test (paragraph 5, page 4).

Question 3: There's a subtle but important error in your argument on page 8, which the referee must have read very carefully to have noticed. And perhaps a suggestion of how to fix it.

Thanks! We've fixed the problem by [doing whatever you did].

  • Thank you. This was very helpful. I took some time to edit the response to be more to the point. – shaunakde Apr 30 '17 at 5:44
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    Worse than groveling - it could be misinterpreted as sarcasm if it seems excessive. – Nicole Ruggiano May 7 '17 at 23:00
4

It's fine as it is. If the reviewers have been especially critical and/or the responses are rejecting most of the proposed changes and additions, offering so much thanks might sound passive-aggressive. Otherwise, this extreme politeness is not uncommon in any form of editorial correspondence. I suppose authors just don't want to seem like they aren't grateful.

  • Thank you for the very quick response. The reviews have been quite positive. I might be overthinking this a little, I realize. (I did just thank you for this comment, and it came quite naturally to me!) – shaunakde Apr 28 '17 at 22:09
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    It's not uncommon but as a reviewer i find it annoying. – Fred Douglis Apr 28 '17 at 23:49
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I would prefer to use the surreptitious ingenuity of the authors in thanking the reviewers. This removes any uncertainty in the reader's mind about your acceptance of the comment nad lets you present the response objectively.

If you remove the thanks, and a thankful introduction, the comments would look disjointed and fail to have any impact and leave the reviewer in doubt as to whether the comment is closed. This is because in the response you might aargue your point, make changes to language and grammar and otherwise unwittingly run down the imort of what the reviewer implied in his review comment.

Also this interjection of thanfulness isolates different comment responses from priorr and post comments and responses and shows the reviewer that the response is to this specific comment andis not overlapping into the next serialised response as it deserves to be a complete standalone response in each point.

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