Q: How can I implement reviewer comments on a rejected paper in my next submission?

Detailed Question -

I had submitted a paper for publication in a journal, but it got rejected. Four reviewers commented on my paper. Some of the comments are helpful and can be implemented, but others are not. One of the reviewers rejected my paper as he believed I should have used method A instead of B. Changing the method requires extra additional work that is beyond of the scope my paper. What should I do with such comments? I want to revise the paper and send it to another journal, but I am afraid that the same reviewer would reject my paper.

1 Answer to this question

Getting through peer review is actually very beneficial for your paper, even if your paper has been rejected. Through peer review, you get valuable feedback that can help improve your paper and make it easier to get accepted when you submit it to another journal.

It is very important to incorporate the peer review comments into your paper, even if it has been rejected. This is because:

1. The peer review comments will help improve your paper.

2. When you submit to another journal, your paper might go to the same referee. In that case, things will work in your favor if the referee finds that his/her suggestions have been incorporated.

First and foremost, read the peer review comments objectively and analyze them carefully. Do not get daunted by the number of comments that you have received. Try to group the comments into categories; for instance, the ones related to language can be in one group, the ones about literature search can be in another, the comments about the methodology can form a third group, and so on. Once you have categorized the comments in this way, you will definitely find it easier to address the issues one by one.

Sometimes, reviewers provide very specific suggestions about language issues; for instance, they might actually suggest how a paragraph can be reworded or a concept explained more clearly. Incorporate these changes first: they are the easiest to implement.

Also, if the reviewer has suggested that you put in some extra references or that you need to share more data, do so. These are also not too difficult to incorporate and will improve your paper.

Next, consider the comments about methodology. If the reviewer has suggested that you conduct some additional experiments, try to do so.  Sometimes, the reviewer comments may appear to be too critical or too demanding, but try to focus on the improvements that you can make. Ultimately, these suggestions will have a positive impact on your paper.

Finally, there might be some reviewer suggestions that you don’t agree with, for example if you think they are out of the scope of your study. Go over these comments objectively once again. Ask yourself if you have any clear reason for not agreeing and make sure that you have evidence to back your reasoning. Make a note of these separately, so that just in case the editor or reviewer of the new journal comes back with the same comments, you have your evidence ready.

Hopefully, this kind of a step-by-step approach will make the task of incorporating reviewer comments easier for you.  Good luck with your next submission!

For futher guidance, you can read the following helpful posts: 

Do's and don'ts for responding to peer reviewers' comments

Tips for authors submitting a revised manuscript