It can be challenging to address peer review feedback, but its aim is to make a paper better, Adam Levy discovers.

It’s a great feeling when your manuscript is accepted, but the peer-review process after that can be tough, particularly for first-time authors.

In the second episode of this four-part series on publishing a paper, Adam Levy asks four researchers and a manuscript editor how best to respond when your paper is rejected or subjected to peer review comments that you disagree with.

Jen Burney, an environmental scientist at the University of California San Diego, says of peer review feedback: “It always feels incredibly intimate and personal the first time you read it. Who are these jerks and why are they responding this way. Didn't they understand what I did?”

In May 2019 Heike Langenberg, then chief editor of Nature Geoscience, published an editorial on the art of responding to reviews after handling a particularly fraught dispute between an author and a reviewer.

“You always have to be very careful to see all sides of any dispute, discussion or problems," she says. "As editors we try to put ouselves into the shoes of the referees and of the authors. We try to be as fair as possible to all sides.”

See also:

Nature Masterclasses