Q: Can (and how do) I ask a referee for more details about some of his comments?
Yes, it’s quite fine to ask a referee (that is, peer reviewer) for more details or explanations about some of their comments. If not, you may not be able to progress with the revisions. This seems to be a major revision. So, if you don’t clear these doubts, it would be quite challenging for you to complete the revision in time.
You will have to mail the editor, who will forward your queries to the peer reviewer. You could put the reviewer’s comments in a spreadsheet along with your query for each comment. It would help to be as specific as possible in order for him to be able to reply accurately. This would also save undue back-and-forth, which may otherwise lead to a wastage of time.
To the editor, you could add that you have started making the other changes, but may not be able to work on these until you are clear about them. Note that in case the reviewer is presently not free, he might take time to get back on your queries. So, you may wish to request the editor for a possible extension of the timeline.
For more information on working through peer review comments and corresponding with the editor, you may refer to the following resources:
- What should I do if I cannot understand a peer reviewer's comment?
- How to respond to comments by peer reviewers
- A practical handbook of templates for communicating with the journal
All the best for further progress on your manuscript!