Q: How to respond to a reviewer comment that is too vague?

Detailed Question -

I have recently received an email from the editor about my submitted paper with the decision "major revision". The e-mail included reviewers' comments, one of the comment stated that the results should be discussed better.
I find this comment to be too vague, how can I improve my discussion if I do not know what exactly the reviewers did not like about it?

1 Answer to this question

We understand your frustration. Occasionally, one comes across reviewer comments that are not specific or particularly helpful. Let us try and address this as best we can. Problems with the Discussion could broadly point to (a) an inadequate literature review or insufficient discussion about what is known about the topic you have addressed in your study or (b) room for improvement in the interpretation of your current findings.

Here are some pointers to help you “improve” your Discussion.

  • Make sure you have not simply repeated the results. Have your findings been compared and discussed vis-à-vis published findings in a comprehensive manner?
  • The Discussion section is also a place where the strengths and limitations of your study should appear. Have you provided these?
  • Have you explored the short-term and long-term implications and applications or policy implications (if applicable) of your findings?
  • Do the concluding statements tie up the study well?
  • Have you indicated what lacunae remain and what should be addressed in future studies?

Overall, if you have these bases covered, the issues should be resolved! Once you are convinced that you have addressed these points, you may indicate so in your response letter.

You might find these resources valuable:

Hope this helps. All the best for your submission!