Author: Ángel Hernando – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

When we receive an editorial report from one of the editors of the journal, the person responsible for that manuscript, we find ourselves in a phase in which we are informed of the decision (based on the reviewers’ reports) that has been assigned to our manuscript so far. First, we will have to distinguish whether our article is accepted with a request for minor (or major) changes or whether, on the contrary, it has been rejected. In the latter case, we recommend not to reply, but to take into account all the indications that we consider may enrich our work and to improve it before sending it to a new journal.

The report will be sent to the person in charge of correspondence, through whom the entire flow of communications with authors is centralized. Obviously, the response is a task that must be carried out by all the co-authors, each one by taking responsibility for the part of their contribution in the manuscript, since the final version before submission must be reviewed by all those involved. This editorial synthesis report should be taken as an indication that our manuscript is on the right track. It is very important to give it a correct answer, since the publication of our work depends on it. It is necessary to carry out a detailed study of the report among all the co-authors. The person in charge of correspondence should send the editorial indications to everyone and, in a collaborative manner, analyze what the reviewers and the editor propose, who can add nuances in this regard.

In the report, we must respond to everything that is required of us, which does not mean that we have to accept all the requests that are asked of us. We only have to accept what we consider pertinent and, if we do not accept requests, we must provide a reasoned justification in a report of changes as to why the changes are not being made. In fact, when the changes requested do not involve altering the research and are relatively easy to make, it is preferable to implement them. It costs less work to change than to enter into a discussion that, in the end, will be sterile and may lead to a predisposition on the part of the reviewers to reject the article.

With respect to the response, it is necessary to be very organized and to make, for example, a table with two columns, putting in the cells of the first column all the indications or requests for changes from the reviewers or the editor, and in the cells of the second column the response we give them. Some journals indicate that it should be marked in yellow or that the change control should be used for second or third versions. Others may ask us to upload a new updated version to the article management platform. If this is not the case, the paragraph and line where the change has been made must be clearly identified so that in the second round of review the reviewers can check the modification, facilitating their work.

In the final drafting of the response to the summary report sent to us by the editor, we must be very careful with the language used and be respectful at all times. You should address the editor, who is the one who will have sent us the e-mail with the proposed changes, and begin the e-mail by thanking both the editor and the reviewers for their work with phrases such as «the changes proposed by the reviewers have allowed us to significantly improve our manuscript…».

Some journals, as is the case of Comunicar, clearly specify to reviewers, in their Code of Ethics, the way in which they should address authors «Peer review will be conducted in an objective manner. No personal judgment of the authors of the contributions is considered appropriate. Reviewers are obliged to give sufficient reasons for their assessments…». But if this is not the case, if in the reviews you see aspects regarding personal judgments against you as authors, do not «enter the fray» in the discussion, because the correct thing to do is to contact the responsible editor and expose the comments. What should be produced and prioritized is the scientific debate. It is also convenient to know and use the review template (if the journal publishes it) used by the reviewers as it can give us clues when replying. Finally, it is not a good idea, if the report is very negative, to reply immediately, in the heat of the moment, but it is advisable, since we will be given a deadline for our reply, to allow a few days of «rest» and then begin the process of correction and response.

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