Q: What is the difference between 'reviewing a study' and 'commenting on a study'?

Detailed Question -

I have received some comments on a review article from the editor of a journal. He asked me to comment on a few studies that I forgot to review. I would like to ask what he meant by "comment on the studies." During the review of a study, we mainly review the work (what the researcher did and what got found) of the primary research. But what is meant by 'commenting'? Should I comment like it was a good study, a bad study, or whatever? Help please.

2 Answers to this question

You are on the right track. Comments such as “it was a good study, a bad study, or whatever” is just what the editor has in mind.

So, if we understand you right, you submitted a review article to a journal, the article has been refereed, and the editor has got back to you with suggestions for revision. In your review article, you must have cited a number of papers and commented on the significance of the findings of each paper or groups of papers. You placed the findings of the cited papers in context, related them to the body of knowledge on the topic of your review, and, more importantly, assessed them in the light of your knowledge, experience, and judgment. This is exactly what writers of review papers are expected to do (in contrast to writers of original contributions reporting on first-hand research).

Apparently, in your review, you missed out some relevant studies—studies that in the eyes of the editor need to be covered in your review. So, the task before you is to deal with those studies the same way as you dealt with other studies that you did cover in your review, commenting on their relevance, significance, methodology, and so on.

For more insights into the points discussed above, you may find the following resources helpful:

Also, as your query is around peer review, you may know that we are presently right in the midst of Peer Review Week 2020 – Trust in Peer Review. In fact, one of the webinars is aimed at both researchers and reviewers. If interested, you may learn more about it and sign up here: Trust and excellence in peer review

For now though, all the best for resubmitting your review!

[With inputs from Yateendra Joshi]


To start with the first action in your query, when there is a redirection, there is typically no request for changes, as changes, if any, need to come from the other journal. The redirect is a simple, straightforward redirect.

Next, you all seem to have done the right thing by not proceeding with the as-yet unlaunched journal. Its launch may get delayed, plus it will take a while to establish its credentials and at least two years to get an impact factor (IF).

Now, coming to your query, while it’s not necessary to disclose the matter of the redirection and your declining to the new journal you are targeting, it’s the nice thing to do. In your cover letter, you may make a short mention of this. In case the journal is interested in knowing more, you may provide additional details. We think this could also communicate how astutely you are thinking about your manuscript and publication goals, but that could be just our opinion. :-)

For help with selecting the next journal, you may find this resource helpful: [Journal selection guide] Questions you should ask to make the right choice

And for communicating with the journal, you may find the below resources handy:

Hope that helps. All the best for the next journal!