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Need help in editor's comments - (Mar/18/2012 )

Dear All,

I had submitted a paper and the editor had return with 2 reviewer's comments. Yes, I do all the lab work and drafted the paper.

1) One reviewer suggest to rewrite as a note (due to the scenario below), while another reviewer rejected the paper. Both claimed that the results are very short.
2) The first author did suggested some improvement which can be done, while the second author reject it by questioning the interest of the work, as the second reviewer feels that there are no novelty in the work.
3) Both of the reviewer said some points which I unable to understand.
4) The editor verdict: suggest to modify to short communication. if unable to address the second reviewer's major point, the paper will be rejected.

Here's the scenario:
a) For some reason, some / one of the authors deleted major part of the results and discussions (without me knowing), and submitted the paper.
B) We intend to submit it as full paper, I need a full paper to be accepted before I can graduate.
c) I intend to rewrite the paper and resubmit, but I scare by doing this, I offended the editor. Can I write both and let the editor choose? I not sure what I should do.
d) Can I ask further clarification of the points made by the reviewer? Will the journal editor / reviewer respond?
e) How a Rebuttal to Reviewers should be properly done?
f) The journal is in "submission needing revisions" folder: does that mean I still got chance?

I humbly need your opinion in this.

Billion thanks, appreciate your kind effort.


-Adrian K-

Without knowing more about the paper, it is hard to say. Don't ignore the possibility of publishing in another journal. PLOS One, for example, will publish anything that is correct, regardless of "impact" issues. It's also open source, another big plus from my standpoint.


I think so long as you can provide the extra work, that you are likely to have a shot at getting it published, as it seems the editor has not out-right rejected it. Re-writing an submitting is definitely an option, I would include the results you say were deleted, and discuss with your supervisor why they were deleted in the first place.

I don't know about clarifying the points raised, there shouldn't be any harm in asking, though usually points made by reviewers are quite clear.

Your rebuttal can be done in the form of the re-submitted manuscript and a covering letter outlining changes and any arguments you have against reviewer's comments, if those points are not directly addressed in the manuscript (e.g. the interest point - I don't see how this one gets raised, science is usually interesting in my opinion, though novelty??? hard to address that one).


Hi Adrian. Long time etc.

If publishing a paper is non-negotiable to your graduation, you obviously need to get this sorted. As bob1 says, I think you will need to find out who removed the data, and why. It may be that the simple act of adding the missing data will satisfy the reviewers concerns that the paper is "short", or not novel.
I am guessing the "we " you refer to is your PI and your self, so you have at least one ally! What do they think of the comments? If neither of you can understand the reviewer comments, then you have every right to ask for clarification form the editor and/or the reviewers.

See if you can talk to the editor. One phone call can often do much more than 5 emails bouncing back and forth. Unless you called them names the last time you wrote, I doubt they will be offended. It is their job, after all, to screen sublitted manuscripts for inclusion. If you can successfully argue your case, you will start to develop a good reputation with the editor, which will help down the track.

Don't forget phage's point of the open source field, which has been steadily gaining momentum over the past few years.

All the best with it!


Hi Adrian,

what would worry me most in your situation is that one/some of your co-authors removed parts of the paper without discussing it with you (as mentioned already in earlier posts). If you have written the paper, and if you have done all the work you should be asked to approve the final version if the ms is correct - omitting information can change the results - but also from the viewpoint of your scientific education, your PIs should tell you how to improve your manuscripts and what was good in your original ms. This will be the first thing to clarify - why did your co-authors remove this part, and why were you not informed about this before submission. You must sort this out before thinking of steps to be taken with the manuscript.

Second thing I would do is to meet up with as many of the people on the paper as possible on one table, and tell them that you need this paper being accepted as full paper and how to get there. Probably the discussion part of the paper can be extended, the reviewers comments can be addressed (and clarified for you by your co-authors) and the paper re-submitted, or you decide to go with one of the OA journals like phage suggested or you change journal - probably one with a slightly different focus.

Once you have decision here, you can try to talk to the editor. Try to write a short and concise email asking him about the points which are not clear to you and avoid any form of criticism on the reviewers (this can be done by your PI if necessary). Just make clear that you are a grad student and do not feel confident with the comments by the reviewers, ask him to clarify these points. I prefer email to calling, although swanny has a good point here, but this probably depends on your personality - I like to sort these things in written form.

No matter on which option you decide, you should try to address the reviewers comments before re-submission (wherever).

@rebuttal: What I usually do is copying the reviewers comments and convert their arguments as bullet point list. Then work through this list, ticking each point when you have done it - so you do not forget minor issues (spelling etc.) which will annoy the reviewers when they spot it again in a resubmission. Start with small things like spelling, grammer etc (if they commented on these things) as you will end up with a different line numbering in the end which makes it a lot more difficult to correct these things. Then move on to the more laborious parts of the revision.
This is also the way I write my letters accompanying the modified ms, but here sorting the arguments by "do not agree with rev because", "major revisions made in accordance to rev", followed by a statement that all minor things were addressed as well (not listing every spelling, comma, word order etc issue separately).

good luck with your ms!


Dear All,
Many thanks for your suggestions.
Life is really very hard being a graduate student. After struggle all the difficulties on lab work, grants, facilities issue, no scholarship funded studies, I thought after I finished my lab work I will have less trouble. Now I have to work as a salesman (with endless paperwork and meetings) for feeding myself, write my thesis and manuscripts. Sometime I really told myself: I should not take all these trouble from the early beginning.

@pito: Thanks for your PM. ^_^
@phage434: Thanks for your suggestion, I will look more into open access paper.
@bob1: My supervisor told me that she dont feel those results were needed and thats why she removed it... and now she ask me to put it back again...
@swanny: Hi.. hows life lately, thanks for drop by and input some comments here. For other authors, it is either not from my country, or it is totally passive. Yeah, I agree and I think I should contact the editor for further clarification.
@gebirgsziege: Frankly, after what I heard from your post, I was very surprised that why my supervisors never have deep discussions with me about my paper writing. Come to think of it, I was only asked to produce results, write grants applications and manuscripts, all without training and any form of "proper" education. My major mistakes were "english/grammar" corrections, but on the scientific part, they hardly question much of the results, or tell me how exactly I should put it in. They never told me which part is good or bad. They used told me they will remove this / that in previous re-write, but not the final version. Of course, they will say I am working now and got no time to take care of all these... This is perhaps they want to remove some acknowledgement part which I had put it in without letting me knowing... Currently, with the exception of overseas author in the manuscript and one author is away, now left with myself and the corresponding author to work on the paper.

Thanks for all of your input. Will let you guys know once the paper is accepted.

Appreciate your kind effort, thanks again.

-Adrian K-

My experience is that the Editor was not hard on your paper, my papers were rejected when one reviewer rejected. Thus, I think you have a good chance to submit your revised paper with a one-by-one response to 2 reviewers. Please use gentle way.

You can reponse that you include more data or perform more experiments as the reason you put more results this time. Try to sidestep of the novelty by stating some raising important knowlegde.

Regarding to English, you can ask some Editorial company to edit your paper, it costs less than 700 USD.

Wish you the best.


Dear All,

Many thanks for your advices. Finally, managed to get the paper accepted (as a note) after few revisions.
Just hope that the grads school will accept this as criteria for my graduation...
Now another struggle: thesis writing. But that is another story

Thanks again for your responds, support, input and kind words.


-Adrian K-