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HealthMarch 14, 2022

Next steps for revising a journal manuscript

It’s a common situation that authors face: you’ve submitted a manuscript to a journal, and you get a “Revise and Resubmit” decision. The big question is: what now? Here are six common sense things to keep in mind if you are asked to revise.

#1: Be happy

First and foremost, be happy when you receive a Revise/Resubmit because this, by definition, is not a rejection. And honestly, very few manuscripts get accepted on the first draft, so you’re in good company.

#2: Don’t be defensive

Your manuscript is something you’re very close to, something you have worked very hard to complete, so it’s easy to get defensive to criticisms made by the reviewers. Resist the temptation to get defensive in your responses. Critiques of your work are all part of the peer review process, and ultimately the reviewers are trying to help you and your paper.

#3: Make your decision

The biggest decision to make once you get a “Revise and Resubmit” is whether you will, in fact, revise and resubmit. It’s an important choice, particularly since there is no guarantee of an ultimate acceptance. There are several factors to weigh when making your decision, but one of the more important things to consider is whether the journal is requesting relatively minor edits or are they asking for major revisions. To some degree, there’s a time/benefit dynamic at play here when major revisions are called for, and you as the author are the only one who can answer whether the time involved will be time well spent.

#4: Address all of the comments/questions

If you’ve decided to begin the revision process, it’s important to systematically address every comment or question brought up in the review of your manuscript. This might seem like an obvious step, but it’s worth mentioning, because skipping a comment/question might not be received well during your second go-round of the review process. Don’t let your haste to resubmit cause you to overlook key comments or questions.

#5: Be prepared for additional rounds of revisions

Sorry to say, but your manuscript might be asked to go through more than one round of revisions. It’s simply the nature of the peer review process. Hopefully, subsequent revisions will be minor in nature. If they aren’t, you’ve got a decision to make. (See #3 above.)

#6: Remember: there are no guarantees

Just as “Revise and Resubmit” is not a rejection, revising and resubmitting your manuscript isn’t a guarantee of acceptance. Some consider a Revise/Resubmit decision as a tacit acceptance, but really there are no promises here, particularly if you are called upon to make major revisions to your manuscript. Ultimately, the editor and the editorial board want research that is the best fit for the journal, which emphasizes the importance of your initial journal selection.

Good luck in your journey to publication! The writing-revising-resubmitting process can be arduous, but hopefully one that has a happy ending for you as an author.

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