How to reply to referees' comments when submitting manuscripts for publication

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Abstract

Background

The publication of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals is a fairly complex and step-wise process that involves responding to referees' comments. Little guidance is available in the biomedical literature on how to deal with such comments.

Objective

The objective of this article is to provide guidance to novice writers on dealing with peer review comments in a way that maximizes the chance of subsequent acceptance.

Methods

This will be a literature review and review of the author's experience as a writer and referee.

Results

Where possible, the author should consider revising and resubmitting rather than sending an article elsewhere. A structured layout for responding to referees' comments is suggested that includes the 3 golden rules: (1) respond completely; (2) respond politely; and (3) respond with evidence.

Conclusion

Responding to referees' comments requires the writer to overcome any feelings of personal attack, and to instead concentrate on addressing referees' concerns in a courteous, objective, and evidence-based way.

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