The peer review system is simultaneously rewarding and frustrating, with good suggestions for improving your manuscript often hidden among less useful comments. What do you do when responding to a reviewer who clearly didn’t read part of your manuscript or completely misunderstood one of your conclusions? It can be tempting to simply tell the reviewer that they didn’t read the paper thoroughly and not leave any other response.
However, peer reviewers are working in good faith and provide a critical service to the advancement of discovery worldwide, so give them a thoughtful and thorough response. Reviewers offer a fresh take on your work and can sometimes find critical flaws before your manuscript reaches a broader audience. In the end, the author gets the credit for the final product, but reviewers often contribute substantially to the shaping of the manuscript.
Of course, you do not have to agree with every suggestion that a reviewer makes, but responding politely will help you when you want to refuse a suggestion or two. How you respond to reviewers and editors can also go a long way toward a favorable decision about your manuscript. When you engage in a civil and objective discourse with reviewers, you signal your commitment to scholarship and willingness to allow the peer review system to improve your manuscript.
Here are some comments that you probably want to tell a reviewer, followed by more polite ways to get your point across. It is likely that you have reviewed papers from other authors (and if you haven’t yet, you will soon), so make your responses a chance to treat your reviewers the way you would like to be treated!
These sentences are just examples; you should form your specific comments in your own words.